The End of the World Playlist

Welcome to the fourth day of the The End of the World Playlist blog tour. It will run until August 1st and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this dystopian world:
The world as we knew it had ended. Deep in the mountains of the west coast, six men survived. In the town of River’s Bend, these six friends continued on with their lives as zombies inherited the Earth. As they navigated the world that had been left behind, the soundtrack of life played on.
 
 
A few questions for the author:
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? 
I feel much older than I appear. Though I am very active and have youthful features, I often feel as though I am at the end of my life as opposed to in my early thirties. My wife finds the whole idea quite silly.
Which is worse, failing or never trying? 
Definitely never trying. You won’t know what you are made of without going as far as you can and pushing your limits beyond everything you have ever known. Failure is simply a learning experience.
If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do? 
I imagine it is because it is simpler to do those things that we are more comfortable with, even if we don’t like them, then taking the chance and failing at something we love.
Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:
Track 4
Three Little Birds
Dan reclined on his bed, arms behind his head. He was already dressed, and the sun had barely risen. His room was barren except for a mattress: no box spring, no frame. There was simply a mattress on the ground. His weapons were stacked neatly against the wall with their respective rounds laid out before them.
On the floor sat a single photograph of a woman, of his wife. She was beautiful with a fair complexion and wide brown eyes. His blue eyes watched the ceiling, his mind calm.
Blam.
Blam.
The sound of gunfire filled his senses. He was up from his mattress in one quick movement. Grabbing the automatic rifle, it hit against his shoulder. He looked down the sight with a grim fix of his lips. Moving into the hallway, he peered around at the other doors. They opened slowly, sleepy faces looking back at him.
Blam.
Blam.
The gunfire erupted again.
Dan moved down the hallway with the practiced ease of someone who is well versed in the hunt. He could hear Kenny’s voice from his room. “You motherfucker! Fucking fuck motherfucker, fuck. I’m gonna fucking…”
Dan kicked the door to Kenny’s room open with a quick motion. Kenny stood, wearing only his boxers––Simpsons’ boxers with Duff written in yellow letters all across it.
There was blood all over his bed. And a severed zombie head. In addition, a plethora of bullet holes riddled the child-sized bed in which he chose to sleep. And let us not forget the two stiff, severed zombie arms that were laid very near where Kenny would have been sleeping.
“What the fuck is this?” demanded Dan.
Kenny looked up. “I woke up with this motherfucker in my bed. I shot it, shot fucking holes in my bed.”
Dan lowered the rifle and looked at Kenny inquisitively. “Why would there be a deadhead in your bed?”
“That rhymed.” Will stood just outside the door with a big smile painted across his face from ear to ear.
Kenny looked at him. Rage covered his face. Pointing a heavy finger, he started forward. “You think this is funny? You did this, didn’t you? You little shit.”
Dan interceded, flashing Kenny a cold look. Turning to Will, he addressed the prankster. “Did you do this?”
Will shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe, fuck him for giving me shit.”
Kenny lunged forward again, but Dan pushed him back. “What the fuck is wrong with you two?”
“Gotta pass the time somehow,” reasoned Will.
Dan shook his head and moved past Will, bumping him slightly. Pointing a thumb at Dan, he continued. “What’s his deal?”
Kenny moved in close, towering over Will, and pointed an accusing finger at him. “You fucking owe me sheets, man.”
Will made a funny face at him.
“The fuck I do. You owe me weed.”
Kenny bumped him. “Sheets and new fucking socks, and boxers and shit, man. How the fuck am I supposed to get murky zombie goo out of everything? I want a new bedroom set and clothes, motherfucker.”
Will stood on his tiptoes to address the challenge. “They are gonna be Smurf sheets and baby tees with that kind of attitude.”
“If you are gonna go gay, then at least get Hello Kitty. I wouldn’t mind having those around.”
Will made a face like he was touched by Kenny’s words. “I wasn’t sure until now, but I am fairly certain that you are a full-blown homosexual. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but I am glad that you finally have the courage to admit it.”
Kenny pushed Will over, knocking him through the open door frame.
“I get it, still a little sensitive about being outed and all. We’ll talk later,” continued Will.
Kenny threw up his hands and kicked the zombie head across the room, splattering brains against the far wall. He groaned as the smear oozed on to the floor.
*
A Ford Econoline Van with heavy tires sat next to the Bronco. The glass was heavily tinted, and little sharpened ridges ran along the base, above the wheels. Allen loaded weapons into the back of the van as Brandon carried a .50 caliber assault rifle, its stand, and an enormous spool to the back of the van. Jesse moved around the side of the van with a box of dusty books.
“What the fuck are you doing with those?” asked Will.
Jesse looked at him coolly.
Will was the youngest of the group.
The two men rarely spoke.
“I have finished these and plan on returning them for some new reading material.”
“Why the fuck would you do that?”
“I imagine I do it for the illusion of order in all of this chaos, or perhaps the ability to create structure in an unstructured world.”
“That is a little weird, man.”
Jesse shrugged and continued on to the front of the van. Will ran forward. He wore a survival vest of sorts, but it was tagged all over with graffiti. Canisters of paint hung like weapons all about his person, leaving little room at his side for the sheathed bat wrapped in barbwire and covered in a hundred or so bent and unevenly placed nails. On his back his assault rifle was adorned with various bright stickers. The red bandanna he wore made him look more like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever than Stallone in Rambo.
Kenny loaded the Bronco. He laid a chainsaw on the seat along with his assault rifle. He carried two shotguns, crossed along his back.
“Looks like I’m riding with you today, Gigantor,” quipped Will.
Kenny groaned mockingly. “Seriously?”
Dan walked by, nodding at Kenny. There was a glimpse of a smile on his face. “Figured you’d want to be there to pick out the sheets,” chided Dan.
Kenny shrugged his shoulders. “Fine. Keep the shit to a minimum, half-pint.”
“Whatever you say.”
Will stepped away, feigning fear. “Gojira! Gojira!”
Kenny stepped forward, waving the smaller man away.
Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com. He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here: http://www.amalgamconsulting.com/.
Would you like to win a copy of The End of the World Playlist?
 
All you have to do is comment on a post during the tour. Two randomly drawn commenters will be awarded either a physical or digital copy of The End of the World Playlist.

Visit http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com/ and follow the blog for a chance to win a Kindle Fire!

Writing Styles – Part 4

My guest today is Miriam Wakerly. She has written several novels and will apply the rules to three of them here today. The challenge was to choose a few sentences to describe a main character and the setting of the novel. Then to show us a clincher used to end a chapter or section of the book.

Welcome Miriam!

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Thank you Anneli for inviting me to your wonderful Place! I have chosen short excerpts from all three of my books that are not in the opening chapters, as anyone can peep inside on Amazon to see the first few pages. I hope they whet your appetite!

The character of Lena is taken from Gypsies Stop tHere:

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CHARACTER:  The older face belonged to a girl, a teenager Kay guessed, who removed the brown and red scarf she had wound round her head and neck. A mane of curly, golden locks tumbled out onto her shoulders, wide eyes like polished chestnuts darting around, as if she was looking for a way out, a quick escape route.

The setting is a description of Jackson’s house, from Shades of Appley Green:

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SETTING:  Faith’s jaw dropped when she saw The Hideaway with its geometry of split-level storeys and enormous windows that overlooked a vast tangle of garden. Her gaze seemed able to cut through the veil of purplish-green vegetation; dense wisteria draping the wall, with variegated ivy winding its way searchingly through it, sweet scented lilac bushes and clumps of hazy lavender competing for attention by the front porch. Minimalist it was no longer.

Lastly, the end of chapter, from No Gypsies Served:

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SENTENCE(S) ENDING SCENE: Dunstan closed his eyes as tears stung them, bitterness burning inside him. His hand formed a fist as if of its own will and thumped his desk hard. He took another slug of whisky, scarcely aware of its heat as it slipped down his throat.

 
Miriam’s Ramblings:   http://www.miriamwakerly.blogspot.co.uk/
 
 
 

The Star Child

Star Child 199 Promo

From July 23-25, The Star Child, the YA Paranormal Romance from Stephanie Keyes is on sale for $1.99!

Kindle users can download from Amazon HERE.

Nook user? Download HERE.

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“Keyes very cleverly ensures the book is unputdownable by reeling in the reader within the first few opening pages.”- BestChickLit.com

“This was a wonderfully written Young Adult Paranormal Romance. The world and characters are phenomenally crafted.” The BookMaven

“Stephanie Keyes is a wonderful voice for a new generation of YA readers. She has skilfully blended mythology and faerie-tale into an original and enthralling story. Pure magick! I’m looking forward to more. – Helen Hart, author, The Black Banner

Continue reading

Cerulean Dreams – by Dan O’Brien

Welcome to the fourth day of the Cerulean Dreams blog tour. It will run until July 24th and will feature excerpts, new author interviews each day, and a video blog by the author. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this dystopian world:
Orion, the last city of men. Deep within the desert, a secret lay waiting. Young women found dead in the street. A corporation that controls the sleep of a populace that never sees the light of day. Alexander Marlowe seeks to unravel the mysteries of Orion as he helps a young girl, Dana, flee the city. The closer they come to the truth, the greater the danger that hunts them. Follow them as they search beyond the boundaries of everything they have ever known for answers. 
 
 
 
A few questions for the author:
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
From a behavior analysis point of view, I simply remove the antecedent. This is a fancy way of saying I eliminate the possibility of experiencing writer’s block by always having multiple projects to work on, whether it is a another piece of short fiction, a consultation job, blogging, etc.
Do you work with an outline, or just write? 
A little of both. I find a living outline to be very useful for the way I write. I will have important ideas and plot points that I want to make sure find a place within the book, but I often deviate as my imagination takes over.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Herbert, Hugo, and Hemmingway probably had the most direct influence on types of books I like to write, as well as my attitude toward writing in general. Orwell and Bradbury helped to cultivate a love of dystopian science fiction and Lovecraft, as well as King, helped to foster a love of all things horror.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published? 
My first book was a space opera that I went the traditional route with. I queried agents and publishers in the early 2000s, right before the vanity press boom that claimed the careers of many writers. It was a relatively lukewarm experience that I am not particularly interested in re-visiting. Needless to say, it was an important learning experience.
Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:
Chapter IV
The doors opened without incident. The lobby looked far more alive than Cedars Tower. Tenants bustled about. Their voices rose, talking about this and that. About Marlowe no doubt, if his paranoid mind had its way.
The pair seemed conspicuous immediately.
Their clothes were dirtied. Their faces were pensive, watchful as they scanned the crowd gathered in the lobby. For a moment, Marlowe could swear that they stopped and looked at him collectively, each of them thinking the same thing: that’s him.
There he is: criminal, terrorist.
“Monsieur,” called the manager. His bristling walk and crimson suit were both polished.
Marlowe looked at him, his face haggard. “What?”
The manager was apprehensive, his hands clenching and posture stiffening. Undoubtedly, Marlowe had answered harsher than the man had anticipated. “We are very much abuzz here, monsieur. There have been OrionCorps all about.”
A pencil-thin moustache and placid features were set upon an unscrupulous face. Marlowe looked at him for a long moment, uncertain if he was more repulsive than the strange transient apparitions that beleaguered him.
“Right, OrionCorps,” said Marlowe dreamily. Dana nudged him hard, giving Marlowe a hard stare. The manager followed her gaze back to the rough mug of Marlowe. “OrionCorps, exactly. I’m Lieutenant Gales,” he started, flashing the badge he had taken from the lieutenant upstairs. He felt a fog lift from his mind for a moment. “I was in pursuit of the suspect. He is in the building.”
The manager looked shocked.
“This building, monsieur?”
Marlowe felt strange, he walked the line between wanting to laugh hysterically at the little man or smack him across the room. He settled on maintaining the lawful air. “Precisely, I was in pursuit of the suspect,” said Marlowe and then looking at Dana, he grabbed her roughly. “Then I noticed that he had accosted this young girl here and I stopped to help her. I didn’t see where he went.”
The manager looked concerned. He grabbed her hand lightly as he spoke. “I am so sorry, madam. That must have been harrowing for you.”
Dana glanced at Marlowe and then nodded slowly.
“Frightening.”
Marlowe cleared his throat, adjusting his weapon. “I am going to bring this girl in, but I have instructed OrionCorps that the suspect is in this building. You can confirm this when they arrive. Tell them Lieutenant Gales has brought a witness back to headquarters. Can you do that for me, sir?”
The manager nodded, almost gleefully. He was enthralled to be of assistance. “Of course monsieur, it would be my pleasure. Suspect in building. Lieutenant Gales took a female witness downtown. Understood, monsieur.”
Marlowe smiled and moved Dana forward, not bothering to turn around to watch the manager. He could hear the little man delegating to bellhops and other tower staff to search the area and assume security precautions.
As they moved through the gathered crowd, Marlowe was sure not to nudge anyone too hard or draw attention. Marlowe reminded himself that it was nothing short of a miracle that the manager had not realized who he was.
As they pushed through the ornate double doors of the plaza, the open air was alive with the sounds of OrionCorps vehicles. The wailing sound of justice was ever-present. Marlowe breathed out, as if he had been holding his breath. “That was close, Dana. That man obviously hadn’t been on his visor lately, otherwise we would’ve been dead in the water.”
The wailing grew closer and Marlowe turned up his collar, hiding his face as a squadron of OrionCorps poured into the building. Dana watched them with a child-like awe, but Marlowe turned her attention back with a rough tug on her arm.
“Do you think that will keep them occupied for long?”
“Long enough, hopefully just long enough,” echoed Marlowe as he turned the next corner, dragging them down a flight of dirty stairs into the rail station. The station was dark like in Messiah district. Distant, flickering lights were in desperate need of service. They stalked out of the darkness, disappearing for a moment in the light, though only to return into the shadows once more.
Marlowe pressed forward, trying not to gawk at the frightful apparitions. He felt a mesmerizing quality from them that trapped you in their gaze.
That was someplace he did not wish to be.
The station was modern, electronic fixings and long runner boards changed from one advertisement to the next. Marlowe had begun to feel that it was not safe. The world seemed to be talking to him at all times: whispering, not loud enough to drown out the living world, but just enough that he knew it was there.
“Where are we going?” Dana asked, her little frame stopping to draw Marlowe’s attention. Her small face had smudges of dirt, black soot that seemed out of place on her almost pristine features.
Warmth passed over his face.
At first, it was comfortable. But as the warmth grew, with it came dead eyes and pale features. Marlowe realized that the phantoms were now walking through him as they pleased. The dead had no regard for the living. “We are going to take the light rail back to my place,” he began.
“They will be waiting there for you,” she cut him off.
Marlowe ran his hands through his hair, sighing exasperatedly. “Right. Of course, they will be. That is the first place they are going to look…” he trailed off and then jumped as one of the strange phantoms walked right through Dana. For a moment, it was a strange mutated creature that was part beauty and part horror.
“We need to leave Orion,” she spoke.
Marlowe looked at the girl seriously. “You keep saying that like it’s an option. We’ll die if we leave the city. We can’t survive in the desert. Anyone who walks beyond these walls dies in that desert. We’ll have to think of something else.”
“We are dead if we stay here.”
“Very astute answer. Not at all helpful, but very clever. I realize that we are dead if we stay. We are dead if we leave the city, but that doesn’t mean I am going to go off gallivanting into a sweltering sandstorm because you like the heat.”
The sound of the approaching light rail was a high-pitched whistle. They both looked up, watching as the bleached steel tube rocketed into the station, the windows and passengers a blur.
“When the doors open, get on and keep moving from rail car to rail car until we find an empty one. If we can stay away from people long enough, I can figure something out,” he spoke in a low voice.
Grunting, he scratched at his right forearm. His fingers dug at his flesh through the heavy cloth of his trench. The doors of the rail opened with a grinding squeal. Dana stepped through without hesitation, her blonde hair bouncing against her shoulders. The interior was cloaked in a scattered darkness, much like everything else about Orion.
She turned toward him, her eyes sparkling. He couldn’t remember if her eyes had been green before. Hadn’t they been blue? “We can’t ride the rail for long. They will look for us on it,” she stated matter-of-factly.
Marlowe nodded. Swallowing, his throat was barren and salty. “There aren’t a lot of places we can hide in Orion. We will just have to keep on the move. We will take turns sleeping.”
Marlowe placed one foot on the dirty steel of the rail and the other stayed on the ground. He watched the ground with interest. It had moved. The vibration was slight, as if a wave had passed across the ground. “I think something might be very, very wrong,” he whispered.
Dana looked at him coldly, her arms crossed. “Worse than everything that is chasing us?” she asked sarcastically.
Marlowe lifted his foot. A section of the concrete moved with it, a webbed imprint that was a perfect match of his foot. His face slipped to a grimace as he watched the ground bubble, pieces of it popping and sending liquid splatters against the side of the rail.
“I think the ground is melting,” he muttered.
He placed his other foot on the ground of the light rail. The surge of steel and power as the rail started forward rocked Marlowe’s balance, forcing him to grab a hold of one of the poles that ran from ceiling to floor. They were cold to the touch. He lifted his foot––the webbing of sloshing concrete had dissipated.
“Could have sworn….”
Dana looked out the wide windows of the rail. Her reflection was that of a beautiful stranger: bright blonde hair and gray eyes. Hadn’t they been green? Her sigh was announced with the pout of her small lips. “It is worse when you sleep. The Lurking watches us, haunting our every step, waiting for us to lower our defenses, let up,” she spoke.
Marlowe watched the girl. “Why are they after you?”
“The truth.”
Marlowe waved his hand dismissively.
“There must be more to it than that.”
She remained silent, her thin arms hugging herself. Marlowe pulled himself forward with the light rail pole, looking at the next car. “We should keep moving from car to car, keep in motion.”
She nodded. Eyes glassy, her little body moved out ahead of Marlowe. Moving through the hunched figures of other commuters who muttered to themselves via their visors, he watched them as they passed. Most didn’t take the time to acknowledge their passing, except one.
“Marlowe.” Her voice felt like a cold spike.
A man had her around the waist. She wiggled against him, trying desperately to find a way to pull herself loose. Marlowe drew his weapon. The man watched, his intense eyes looking from the girl to Marlowe. The blade was sharp. The glinting edge was tight against her throat.
“Let the girl go,” Marlowe growled.
He took a step forward.
The man pulled Dana up, the blade touching her skin, crimson melting into ivory. His teeth gleamed. Some were sharpened to razor points. His face distorted. What had been pale skin was now moldy like old bread. Teeth were decayed, yellow and blackened from lack of care. The cackle that erupted from the man was otherworldly.
“The pretty one is mine now,” he crooned.
Fingers were long and slender.
Nails dirtied and cracked.
Marlowe blinked.
The very act was heavy.
He shot once, twice. The first round caught the man in the throat. Greenish blood spilled in a fine arc. Dana fell away. Her shriek fell on his deaf ears. The second shot exploded through the man’s chest.
Dana watched as Marlowe loomed over the man, his wide eyes glazed as he emptied the chamber. Each shot made the man jump, his body lifting from the ground as if pushed from beneath.
“I think he is dead,” she whispered.
Marlowe continued to pull the trigger. The man’s face was a haunting smile, blackened lips and bleeding gums forever frozen. The world around him seemed silent. The click of his weapon, Dana’s words, all of it was a silent symphony.
Then the voices returned.
Low whispering that at first climbed and climbed until there was a raging cacophony of screams that were indiscernible from one another. He looked at Dana, her lips moving, but the words were lost to him.
It came slowly, half of the message lost.
“…leave.”
He looked at her strangely. “What?” he asked, splatters of the man’s blood plastered across his chest.
Her eyes pleaded.
“We should leave, get off of the train.”
He nodded, licking his lips again. The world had refocused. “News certainly does travel fast, this kind more so than most. Not often you have a dead demon on a train.”
It was Dana’s turn to look at him oddly. He moved around her, reloading his weapon and aiming at the metal doors. The force of the round charred the steel in a perfect circle.
The screech of the train frightened the passengers.
As the doors opened, Dana jumped through, Marlowe following. Many of the onlookers disengaged their visors. They watched as the blood-soaked Marlowe and an angel of a young woman departed the train and fell into the murky tunnel. Marlowe watched the walls, looking for the crawling figures. Immediately, he regretted diving so blithely into the darkness when there were things that wished to speak to him from the shadows.
Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com. He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here: http://www.amalgamconsulting.com/.
Would you like to win a copy of Cerulean Dreams?
 
All you have to do is comment on a post during the tour. Two randomly drawn commenters will be awarded either a physical or digital copy of Cerulean Dreams.

Visit http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com/ and follow the blog for a chance to win a Kindle Fire!

Emma Calin Blows her Horn

I’m quite moved to be on here. Anneli is a writer I admire and unbeknown to me, an element in her own writing followed very much one of the areas I address in my “Love In A Hopeless Place Collection.” I won’t tell you any more….you’ll have to read on.

Now, ever since I’ve been in this business I have been looking for unique features of my own work and persona to promote. Just maybe I am the only female social realist romance writer to be able to blow her own trumpet by actually playing her own trombone. Last Sunday I answered the bugle call of duty and helped out on the park bandstand. Come on Harper Collins et al – bring out your trombonists and do battle!

Click on this link. http://ow.ly/n2eMU  It will take  you to the blog where you’ll see the video of the band.

Emma at the Bandstand

And now to the book. Anneli’s blog is the first stop on my “Blowing my own Trombone Book Launch Blog Tour.” I have never tried to launch a story collection before. Short stories are strange animals – a bit like mules that have great strength but are enclosed within their lonely selves and cannot breed. I have always loved this format. In a way it is a look into somebody else’s critical life moment and a moving on back into your own life. Short stories are often described by scribes as a discipline. This is true, but they are also a freedom just to dip in for the good bits and dip out of the whole novel story arc. The “story” is the whole essence of fiction. I have always described fiction as a way of stealing the truth from the pocket of lies. Around the camp fires and the canteen tables, stories have been told. Most are lies. They deceive us into the truth of ourselves.

I may sound a bit serious and literary in these remarks. I am grateful to have the opportunity to say these things here because Anneli Purchase is a sincere writer of passion and truth who seeks integrity in her work. She has given me great assistance in proofreading and editing my work and whatever you think – YOU cannot spot your own mistakes! You know what you wanted to say and your brain fills in the BIG GAPING HOLES!!!

And here at last, is the cover of my “Love In a Hopeless Place Collection.”

LIAHP boxed set with border

These are realist “true life” tales from the less advantaged sector of society. Love grows like weeds in the cracks of time. But weeds are vital and savage. We know  they will always win in the end. Their anarchic victory confers upon us the structure of self discovery.

This ‘Love in a Hopeless Place Collection’ is launched tomorrow and available from Amazon worldwide.

Now, I am working on Romance because our dreams are as true as our hopes and reality. Our tomorrows are as possible as our dreams.  A lover’s arms are as strong as our power to reward, or not reward, with our yielding.

Oooh – I love it! I love it! I love LOVE!

Thanks for having me Anneli – and for your help and support.

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Hear some more tunes from the bandstand and follow the rest of my tour on these links:

18th July Love a Happy Ending Lifestyle Magazine

and Real Life According to Emma

20th July Sheryl Browne

21st July Nicky Wells

22nd July Melanie Robertson-King

23rd July Miriam Wakerly

25th July Bonnie Trachtenberg

26th July Patricia Sands

27th Stephanie Keys

28th Linn Halton

31st July Venture Galleries Authors Collection

Emma Calin Links

For more books by Emma Calin:  http://www.viewAuthor.at/EmmaCalin

Emma Calin Blog: http://www.emmacalin.blogspot.com

Emma Calin Website: http://www.emmacalin.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/emma.calin

Facebook Page for book: https://www.facebook.com/EmmaCalinBoxedSet

Twitter:@Emma Calin

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/emmacalin/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4915751.Emma_Calin

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Five Hot Books in One

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Watch this space for Emma Calin’s big event, the release of her fabulous collection of novellas, “The Love in a Hopeless Place Collection.” More information coming soon.

And yes, Emma does play the trombone.

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Author of #1 best selling Kindle romantic adventure:  Knockout! A Passionate Police Romance    

Author of #1 best selling Kindle short story: Sub Prime  &  The Chosen 
Blog: http://www.emmacalin.blogspot.com        Website: http://www.emmacalin.com         Twitter: @EmmaCalin        

Bitten – A Dan O’Brien Novel

Welcome to the fourth day of the Bitten blog tour. It will run until July 16th and will feature excerpts, new author interviews each day, character interviews, and a casting call by the author. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this dark world
A predator stalks a cold northern Minnesotan town. There is talk of wolves walking on two legs and attacking people in the deep woods. Lauren Westlake, resourceful and determined F.B.I Agent, has found a connection between the strange murders in the north and a case file almost a hundred years old. Traveling to the cold north, she begins an investigation that spirals deep into the darkness of mythology and nightmares. Filled with creatures of the night and an ancient romance, the revelation of who hunts beneath the moon is more grisly than anyone could have imagined.
A few questions for the author:
What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing novel? 
Marketing it. Sitting down and doing it has never been a problem for me. And with more than a dozen written, I think I can say that with some confidence. Marketing is what came the slowest, but is now something I feel like I have a good handle on.
What do you consider your biggest failure? 
Not doing what I wanted sooner. I can hear the groans and shouts now. Yes, I realize I am only 32. I wrote my first book at 16 and was published by 20 and then gave up because there was no one waiting with a giant check. I traded in novel writing for freelance editing and copy-writing and just waited too long for my liking. Also, I never took piano lessons and I can’t ski.
Do you research your novels? 
It depends on the novel. If there is something specific from a region, I am most definitely looking it up. Is there lore? Then I am there pouring through the pages. I spent a lot of years in academia, so research is not foreign to me. It can be very relaxing. Then again some people find speed metal relaxing, so it’s all relative.
How much impact does your childhood have on your writing? 
A tremendous amount in terms of why I got into writing in the first place. I loved science fiction and fantasy when I was a kid. I read hundreds and hundreds of books when I was in elementary school. Had I not that voracious appetite for reading, I might have chosen a different profession.
Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:
Chapter IV
The morgue was at the bottom of the only mortuary in the town of Locke. Agent Westlake, Montgomery, and the youthful deputy made their way through the building’s darkened interior, into the bowels of a cold stone structure that could withstand the end of the world.
Montgomery smiled. “Surprised about our simple morgue, Agent Westlake?”
“Not in the slightest. It would be ridiculous to have a separate building given how infrequently violent crimes occur in your small alcove of a town. It is efficient in a way.”
“Well at least some one appreciates…” spoke Collins as they emerged in the wide whitewashed walls of the basement. Collins was wearing her characteristic bee hive, though black butterfly clips held up random, erratic wisps that attempted to free themselves from bondage. “…what I do here.”
Agent Westlake led the crowd, looking over the walls of silver doors that encased empty chambers where the departed slept in a kind of purgatory before finding a home in the earth or the hearth, as they such desired. Montgomery and the deputy hovered near the table where a white sheet covered the bumpy, uneven terrain of a body.
“How many homicides?”
The sheriff and deputy looked over at the agent with mute glimpses. “Homicides, Agent Westlake?”
Lauren touched the cold metal of the human cabinets. “In Locke or surrounding towns. How many deaths of unnatural causes have you had?”
Montgomery shrugged.
“One a year, maybe every two or three.”
“And now two in 48 hours. Perhaps there is something to that.”
“Perhaps.”
Collins, her thick glasses decorated with rings of silver balls interlinked to form a chain, pulled back the sheet that covered the woman. “We still don’t have an identification, but what we do have is cause of death.”
Montgomery crossed his arms and the deputy scratched his head. Westlake lingered over the body as the sheet revealed what might have once been a woman. The dark hair was pulled back and laid down beside her pale skin like wet carpet. The make-up was reduced to heavy indentions in the skin from prolonged use.
Her breasts remained a testament to their creation and construction by the hands of man. Lines along her stomach announced more cosmetic alterations. Lauren reached out and touched the pink wound; deep lacerations carved her chest cavity.
“Did you swab the wound?”
Collins lowered her head, looking over glasses. “No, we here in the north don’t know nothing about our business. We just put the bodies in boxes up here.”
Lauren smiled at the woman, chagrinned.
“My apologies, Dr. Collins.”
Collins smiled. The use of a formal title allowed everything to be forgotten. “We did a full autopsy, sent out for toxicology and swabbed the wound for particulates. What is it that you are looking for?”
Lauren placed her hands on her hips. “Whatever did this used a weapon. Knowing the material and construction, we might be able to limit our focus.” The sheriff coughed and Lauren looked down. “Of course, I mean the scope of the sheriff’s investigation. I am merely shadowing.”
“Couldn’t it have been an animal?” echoed the deputy, his face the very picture of absence of thought. “I mean the wounds look like they could have been from a wolf or bear or something.”
Lauren looked to Montgomery and he nodded, giving his silent approval. “If it were animal there would be other markings, not just a singular, purposeful wound. A deathblow as it was. Animals rip and drag. And usually a low chest wound would indicate knowledge of anatomy. A predator would have gone for the jugular.”
Collins replaced the sheet. “We should have the reports back in a couple of weeks.”
“Couple of weeks?”
Montgomery intervened. “Things work a bit slow up here. We have to send the reports out. Get processed somewhere else and wait for results.”
Lauren touched a hand to her mouth in thought, stepping away from the table. “Would it be a terrible insult if I tried to expedite your wait time, sheriff?”
Hands in pockets, he shrugged. “Not at all, Agent Westlake. I would say that would be a very kind thing to do. Go a long way toward that cooperation and professional courtesy you were looking for.”
Lauren smiled tightly and withdrew her cell phone from her coat. “I will see what I can do.”
*
Dominic McManus walked through the old farmhouse filled with barren walls and aged paintings. There was an unsophisticated smell, a sense of the rustic enhanced by the wilderness. Wood planks beneath his feet alternated in sound, creating a symphony of rhythm. The afternoon sun hid behind the gray cloud cover, creating a lining of beer-colored halos that shielded the world from luminance.
The woods were silent, tall pines and evergreens sentinels against the night that would come and the day that followed. Dark, surreal paintings were littered about the simple walls depicting creatures roaming the night, dancing a ritual beneath the moon. The living room was home to one wide, strangled rug in desperate need of cleaning.
Triangles and lines of muted light cascaded onto the antediluvian home. He walked the house: his home. Bare feet touching the ground, he moved with a grace unbecoming for a man of his considerable size. Nearly six feet, his wide shoulders were marked with long, thin scars of memories past. His chest was a mat of tight black hair that made an artistic triangle.
Sweat dripped down off of him, following the contours of his strong shoulders and slender waist. His shirt was draped over one of two uncomfortable-looking beige chairs that looked as if they had been left in the rain for a century.
His dark hair touched his shoulders, unrestrained.
“Friday,” he whispered.
A Labrador––the sleek color of night––bounded into the room. He knelt, running his hands across the side of the dog in broad strokes. “Good girl,” he whispered, allowing the dog to nuzzle his lightly bearded face. She was his sole companion by choice.
Standing again, he walked to the single oak table at the center of the room, grabbing his shirt as he walked by. He pulled it over his shoulders and sat into one of the odd-looking chairs that surrounded the table, reaching down again to attend to his friend.
The house was a silent reminder of a past forgotten. He had come to Locke for simple reasons: a life unfinished. There were ghosts of the past haunting the land. That haunted him still. Each night was a journey, a remembrance.
His kitchen was clean; no dishes in the sink. There were none of the usual signs of a bachelor. Bowls of fresh fruit, some spilled out past the rims covered the counter. There was no refrigerator, no stove. A heavy, off-white freezer lay on its side, humming softly. There was a heavy wood stove, a cast-iron pot setting atop the warm, burning embers inside. A thin string with a white packet hung from it: tea.
Moving out into the back porch, a mesh enclosure with a single chair that overlooked the backyard and the surrounding property, he contemplated the world around him. There was a rifle on the ground just beside the chair and a wastebasket with torn off days of a calendar. Each had a circled day; every marking was a shrouded secret.
He stood looking out upon the wilderness, knowing its mysteries. The murders had already spread through town. The word was panic. He knew more than he could possibly tell them.
Lauren Westlake: her name intrigued him. Born to the west of a great lake, her ancestors must have been hunters or river folk. There had been something intoxicating about her. He walked her home, made sure she made it through the night.
Things would get worse.
The whistle of the iron kettle made him turn. He stalked back into the house. The heavy muscles of his arms flexed. Veins formed an interspersed roadmap down his bicep and into his forearm as he lifted the kettle free.
The tea was poured. He carried the simple mug with him as he returned to the porch, looking out upon the still woods. He knew that they would not be still that night. Things would get much worse. But what could he do? What could be said that would not cast doubt upon his guise? He had come for a reason, for a purpose. That is what had to remain most important. He would have to be vigilant.
*
Lauren smoothed out the map on the wall behind the sheriff’s desk. It was littered with light blue lines and no script save for some cardinal directions. The deputy leaned against the long counter of the station. The sheriff sat back in his in chair, arms laced behind his head.
“You think there is a pattern to the attacks? I thought we needed three points to make a line. We ain’t got but two yet,” spoke the deputy as he took a drink of the stale, tasteless coffee.
Lauren placed the last tack into the map and stepped back. “Three points would make a perfect line. But we are not looking for a line. We are looking for a connection, deputy. Until we get those toxin and particulates screens back, which by the way, I managed to shave off some time. We should have them in a couple of days. But until then, we need to see if we can’t figure out what we have here.”
“You think there is going to be another murder, Agent Westlake?” said the sheriff, emotionless.
“I believe there will be many more before all of this is said and done.”
The deputy placed down his coffee and folded his arms. “What exactly do you think is going to happen?”
“It starts out as a single murder. Looks like an animal attack. And then another. And another. A pattern emerges. Women and small children attacked, maimed in a fashion meant to look like an animal.”
Mrs. Meadows and the deputy covered their mouths, eyes wide. Lauren touched the map, spreading out the wrinkles and folds from years in a desk drawer. “Then it stops. As quickly as it came, it disappears. We have had at least three instances similar to what you have had here. The second victim is missing flesh, which is disturbing and new. We have not seen that before. In the past, there were missing organs, purposeful disfigurement.”
“You think it is the same person?” queried the sheriff, his monotone voice skeptical.
Lauren leaned against the wall. “Doubtful. If it is, we are talking about someone who has been killing for thirty or forty plus years, a serial situation. When I took over the investigation, it had been sitting for near a decade.”
The sheriff switched feet on the desk: dirty soles, filthy souls. “I thought you were talking about a recent case. This sounds as if it might be unrelated.”
Lauren frowned.
She had anticipated this doubt. “When I resuscitated the file from deep storage, it was because there were some strange killings in a rural area outside of a Chicago suburb. There was talk of animal attacks. Investigations produced bodies not just similar to what you have here in your sleepy town, but identical to what was sitting in those dusty case files.”
She placed her hands on the sheriff’s desk. He looked at her hands grimly. “There is a connection,” she finished. Returning to the map, she pointed at a garish red pin marked with white speckles. And then tracing a line to another tack, this one a green best suited for Christmas decorations. “We have two attacks separated by a mile, mile and a half maximum.”
“That’s a lot of woods, Agent Westlake,” whined the deputy. She did not bother to turn around. Montgomery chastised him with a reproachful glare.
“Agreed, deputy. We need more people to cover the area effectively.”
The sheriff coughed. “What you see is what you get. I could, if it was an emergency mind you, get some extra deputies from Pine County or from over in Laketown. But that would be a while and would require an emergency.”
Lauren glared at him, her wide eyes squinting to angry spheres. “Murder is not serious enough for you?”
Montgomery grimaced, his kind of smile. “Murder is most serious, even to us country folk. But, the fact remains that Collins could not identify the weapon used in the attacks. If there was such an explanation or a connection, it would be that both looked like animal attacks.”
Lauren touched her head.
The hangover had subsided to a dull throbbing, an angry itch that scratched at her last nerve. “What about the existing case files? What about my sudden presence here in Locke? Are these not sufficient to cause alarm? Certainly a hysterical woman would be enough.”
The sheriff looked at her with a crooked grin. “I would hardly call you hysterical, Agent Westlake,” he spoke with a slight ruffle.
“What about canvassing the area between the two murders with the personnel you have?”
“Seems reasonable, but I am not ready to call in reinforcements. I think that you might be overshooting your mark.”
“Can we at least have a look at the Leftwich house and then patrol the area tonight?”
The sheriff stood slowly.
He stretched out his legs as he did so.
Lifting the mug beside him, he grinned.
“You can ride with us.”
She thought to argue the point, ask for separate cars, one for each of them to better scout the area. Nodding with a tight smile, she motioned with her hand that she would follow. As they exited the station out into the cold open air of Locke, she realized the day had already begun to shrink away from the coming night. The feeling deep in her gut told her that the night would be a long one.
5b0a8-rusticauthordan
Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com. He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here: http://www.amalgamconsulting.com/.
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