Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone @Stone_Rik #Crime #MustRead #Thriller

Adrik waited in the guard’s room a couple of corridors along from Kornfeld’s cell. There was only one way out, so the Jew had to pass this room. He spun a Makarov on his finger, aimed at imaginary targets and thrilled at the thought of using it. The gun was standard issue, but he would’ve chosen it anyway. Totally reliable, pull the trigger and out pop the bullets. The blowback design expels the spent case to the right and loads the next cartridge into the chamber – easy. And fully armed with eight rounds, he would use them all.
This wouldn’t be his first killing and sure as hell wouldn’t be his last. Kornfeld was a pain, and it was Otto who mattered. He would do anything for him. Why should he care about some Jew who got in the way?
But time dragged, and Kornfeld hadn’t yet made a show. For one horrible minute he thought there might be another way out – but no, that isn’t even possible. Calm down, be patient... Try as he might, he couldn’t, and the idea ran around his head, irritating him beyond measure.
He left the guardroom and paced the corridor outside. At first a short distance and then a bit further into the next passageway. No good – he had to find out what had happened. With gun in hand and footsteps stealthy he reached the cell door – it was slightly open. Oh shit, did that mean there was another way out? Or maybe Kornfeld had gone deeper into the prison block. Or maybe he was in the cell hoping the element of surprise would be with him.
Possibilities ganged up. Kornfeld knew Lubyanka well. What if there was another way out and that little bastard knew it? If so, Otto would kill him, never mind the Jew. He kicked the door fully open, slammed it against the cell wall, stood back and then moved in, pointing the gun around to make sure Kornfeld wasn’t hidden on either side of the opening. The cell was dimly lit and he found it difficult to see. He would stay put until his eyes got accustomed to the light. A body, he saw a body. It was covered with a greatcoat, on the bunk facing the wall.
He was clearly supposed to think it was Kornfeld. In that case he’d be under the bunk waiting... But then that’s obvious too, so he might be on top with the guard pushed underneath. That made more sense – it would be easier for him to make an attack from on top – but, shit, wouldn’t that be what he wanted him to think?
To be sure of the kill, Adrik wanted to shoot above and below – but he couldn’t. How would he explain the soldier’s death? Oh, Otto, if only Otto was there to tell him what to do. But he wasn’t, he had to make up his own mind. The Jew was on top – yes, definitely on top.
Cautiously, he edged forward, pointed the pistol to the back of the person’s head and pulled the body towards him with gun steady and ready to fire. As quickly as his huge form allowed, he pulled the greatcoat away.
Fuck! The guard! No time to react. A leg came from under the bunk with incredible speed and wrapped around the back of his. At the same time, the Jew’s other foot came against his knees and pushed. Adrik had brought his legs together when he tore the coat away and Kornfeld used the imbalance to his advantage. Adrik’s arms went out. He hovered awkwardly, then almost regained control, but Kornfeld pushed harder and Adrik went flying backwards with his legs in the air. A sense of suspension ended and he fell heavily, striking the hard stone floor. His head bounced, shudders chased through his brain and he found himself staring at the ceiling, wavering between conscious and unconscious.
The pain pierced his skull and he noticed his head had rested in a pool of warm liquid. He hadn’t seen that when he came in. Numbness consumed his body; he couldn’t move. But then his blurred vision saw the bleary outline of the Jew. Awareness came that his body was being rolled over. He was paralyzed, but it didn’t stop the surge of fear that ran through every fibre of his being.
Birth of an Assassin
Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.
Buy Now @ Amazon, B&N, Kobo & Waterstones
Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense
Rating – R
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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fenella J. Miller 's #WriteTip on Research Before Writing Your #Book @fenellawriter #AmWriting #Historical

How to Research Your Story before Writing Your Book
I am a historical fiction writer and research is fundamental to my writing. As I write in three
different eras I have hundreds of research books to help me with my search for accurate historical detail. All my research books are physical books as I don't think reading a non-fiction book works very well on an e-reader. When researching I have slips of paper placed in the book at any relevant information, this is not possible with an e-book.
This is how I work. First an idea for the story comes to me, then the characters, and then the setting. The second thing I do is start reading as many books on the subject as I can find, not detailed research but background. I always buy at least four books whenever I'm starting to write something new; I already have four bookcases overloaded with my research library, I think I'm going to have to buy a fifth soon. I will also read any fiction set around the time, for instance "Dammed Good Show" by Derek Robinson, for background on RAF pilots.
When I think I know enough about the period I visit the area to make sure I have the names of streets, pubs and so on correct. This is why I tend to set my books in Essex and Suffolk. It is impossible for me to go away from home overnight in order to visit anywhere further afield.
When I have all this research correlated I write a plan of the story – not really anything detailed – just a couple of pages of notes with dates/names/events so I know where I'm going. I no longer need to do this with my Regency romantic adventures because having written so many, I am as familiar with the history of the period as I need to be for these light, frothy books. That said, usually refer to several research books whilst I'm writing the story.
When I begin to write I use the Internet as well as my research books. This is for detailed research. When I wrote the first part of Barbara's War I spent a long time looking for information about the inside of the bomber the hero was flying in. A helpful gentleman in America, who I discovered on the Internet, supplied me with diagrams of the interior of the plane so I could get the facts correct.
This is how I work, obviously other writers work differently. There is nothing worse than an inaccurate, anachronistic historical novel. I spent several hours finding out exactly where the seats for the pilot, gunner and navigator were situated on the plane – but there was only a brief mention of this in the book. I doubt there would be many readers any the wiser if I had got it wrong. However, all good historical novelists want every detail correct and would never skimp on research
hannahsWar
World War II brings divided loyalties and tough decisions in this page turning drama from Fenella Miller.
Hannah Austen-Bagshaw’s privileged background can’t stop her falling in love with working-class pilot, Jack, but Hannah has a secret. Torn between her duty and her humanity, she is sheltering a young German pilot knowing she risks being arrested as a traitor. Hannah’s worst fears are realised when Jack finds out what she has done and their love begins to unravel.
Will her betrayal be too much for Jack to forgive?
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Historical fiction
Rating – PG
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Order of Earth (Elements of Ink) by Jennifer Cornet @J_Cornet

Book Excerpt: (Chapter 2)

The brass doors opened behind her bringing with it an unexpected guest.

“I knew you’d come home.”

Onyx’ heart sank hearing him speak in that gentle voice. He always used that voice when he knew he was wrong; when he was trying to make her forgive him. It felt repulsively sweet now.

“She was just leaving,” Jade said in a firm tone as she turned to face him.

“Nicky, you brought a bodyguard with you? That hurts,” he sounded genuinely insulted.

“Goodbye, Philip.” Onyx said softly, suddenly lacking the confidence she just had.

Philip reached out for her arm, but Jade intercepted the action, grabbing him by the wrist and twisting it until he let out an almost inaudible yelp.

“You will not lay a hand on her. Not now, not ever again. If you so much as brush against her in a way I don’t like, I will break every bone in your body, starting with your pinky toe and ending with your skull.” She twisted just a little further.

But he didn’t lose his composure. He looked Onyx dead in the eye, “Quite a lot of bark for your little Chihuahua of a friend here, huh? Nicky, we don’t need all of this. This running away, the muscle, the hiding out, we are better than this. You know I love you more than anything in the world. Just come home, baby. I need you. It’ll be different, I promise. I’ll start going to therapy like you always wanted. You can even hang out with that crayon haired one. No questions asked. Just come home. What do you say? Come on, I need you.”

“Onyx, don’t you listen to him. Put the bags in the elevator, we’re leaving.”

Onyx hesitated, switching her gaze back and forth between the two. He looked so hurt, so broken up, she just wanted to leap into his arms and console him. For a moment, she could feel her heart ripping in her chest; she believed him. She believed he meant he would change and things would be different. She believed it and she hated herself for it.

Onyx rolled her bags into the elevator before she lost her nerve.

“Goodbye, Philip.” She said again.

“If you love her even half as much as you say, you’ll let us leave here. You’ll leave her alone and move on with your life. But keep the therapy bit, you need it.” Jade winked at him before joining Onyx.

As Jade released his wrist, he noticed a small green marking on her arm; a very familiar mark that he knew all too well.

The girls disappeared down to the ground floor, leaving Philip alone in his flower filled living room. He pulled out his phone and hit speed dial.

“She’s with the Order of Earth. Find out what family, find out who their Protector is, and find out now.”

OrderOfEarth

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Genre - Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG – 13

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Connect with Jennifer Cornet on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.jennifercornet.com/

Friday, March 7, 2014

Steps Into Darkness (A Shakertown Adventure) by Ben Woodard @benswoodard

The unknown figure’s back was to them as he connected the wires to the detonator. Will shoved Tom. Only minutes remained.

They located the last connection point where the blasting caps were wired to two sticks of dynamite. The wires to the plunger snaked up the hill. The connecting strands were twisted, tightly, as with pliers. Tom snatched a rock, but Will grabbed his hand and pointed up the hill. Tom understood. The man would hear the pounding. They each took a twisted connection and tried to pry it apart with their fingers. They would need to break only one.

The wires resisted. Tom gritted his teeth, then remembered his pocket knife. He pulled it out, flipped the blade open, and wedged the tip between two strands. He twisted and the blade snapped. The sound startled the man. He whirled around and stared directly at the boys. Tom forced the broken blade into the gap in the wires. Will put his finger on top of one and pulled as Tom twisted. Blood ran down Will’s hand as the metal bit into his finger. They strained, and watched the man. His eyes darted in all directions. Then he made his decision. He pulled the plunger up, hesitated a moment, and slammed it down.

StepIntoDarkness

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Genre - YA/Mystery

Rating – PG – 13

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Website http://BooksByBen.com

#Author Interview with Sebastiana Randone @sebasti29567440 #Fantasy #Romance

Image of Sebastiana Randone
What social issues interest you the most?
The environment and how we, as humans, deal with this problem of over population. Generally speaking, humans by nature are acquisitive and thus avaricious. Perhaps this is hard wired, due to atavistic urges for survival. This being the case, we cannot, as a globalised world, keep birth rates so high. Here in Australia it keeps going up. Originally it was 2 children per family, now it has gone up to around 3.5 per family, which is conservative compared to the developing world where birth rates average around 6 per family.  It is unsustainable and mother-nature is suffering.
I am saddened by the thought that animals are the victims of this bloated human presence.  I am also aware that if ALL humans lived a modest lifestyle (which is still very comfortable when compared to the years prior to the 1970’s), then there would be sufficient for future generations.
The problem is getting through to the pervasive extreme right wing forces of politics, who due to their strength in numbers are the makers of policy. Policies which are largely predicated on the selling of armaments and a resource intensive war industry; oil and polluting minerals – invasive practices requiring the land and sea to be drilled into.  
There are so many alternatives that could offer a cleaner way forward. The old guard are powerful, stubborn, avaricious and unwilling to change.
It is those rare individuals who are driven by selflessness, benevolence and an inherent desire for social equity and a love of nature, who HOPEFULLY will save the planet.      
Do you find the time to read?
Yes! I love reading. It is not a long session, but it is one I look forward to every evening before sleeping. 
Last book you purchased? Tell us about it.
Armadale by Wilkie Collins. 
It is a thick book, which is fine, for I like my books big and challenging. 
This is an interesting book and as with all Collin’s books, there are underhanded seedy characters scheming and plotting. The story largely is about a naive, new to wealth individual named Armadale. He befriends another who, unknown to himself, carries his name and a dark family history that links them together. This new friend goes under a different name now and although he is aware of this dark history, Armadale is not.
When both were children, the father was murdered by the other’s father who had stolen the victim’s name of Armadale.
As these 2 friend’s paths merge they become close. Then, having only recently come into wealth, Armadale falls in love with an older woman, who has been planted there to attract him due to this new found wealth.
Meanwhile the other friend falls for this vixen as well, and realising that she carries evil intent, he runs away, much to the chagrin of his close friend(half brother), who due to his guilelessness is none the wiser. This is the story so far, given that I am half way through.
Who do you admire?
Alive: Germaine Greer, Stephen Fry, Noam Chomsky
Dead: Martha Graham, Isadora Duncan, Picasso, George Eliot, Balzac, Dickens, Somerset Maughan(and all the guests at my dinner(see above))

House

The House is an adult fairy tale rich in mystery and intrigue.
Here is a tale of a woman so absorbed with historical novels that her own reality ceases to offer any hope of romance and beauty.
Until one day this dreamy idealist finds herself in a mysterious forest. How she arrived there is unknown. Soon she encounters a dilapidated house, within whose ancient walls magical rooms that transport to parallel worlds lie in wait.  There she is transmigrated to 18th century England, where our heroine interacts with an odd mix of characters whose dysfunctional lives become immediately apparent.
Her first tribulation involves a nefarious lord, an archetype of the monstrous characters one encounters in fairy tales. The ramification from this confrontation sets the tone for the narrative.
A magic portal finally enables escape from the austere Georgian dwelling. She is then spirited back to the enigmatic house, and a journey to Regency London follows, where a large cast of eccentric identities present themselves.
Late one night, following a long stay in Florence, a young, heart-broken poet arrives. His introduction to the beautiful time traveller offers promise of restoration and love. But there are several more obstacles ahead before her destiny in this curious adventure is made apparent.
In the end an unexpected twist is revealed. But like all good fairy tales, this surprising conclusion is pleasing, even though the means of getting there are dark, and at times sinister.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre - Historical, Fantasy, Romance
Rating - PG-16
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Devolution by Peter Clenott @PeterClenott

Excerpt

Chiku couldn’t help stare at the large bulge that was Rebecca’s baby-to-be. It made her reflect upon the gynecological exam Dr. Kessel had just given her. At sixteen, she couldn’t imagine being anyone’s mother, except maybe a chimpanzee’s. Rebecca was only fourteen, an eighth grader back home, a middle schooler. How could she be a mother? Yet even in wealthy well-educated America girls in their mid-teens were getting knocked up all the time, having their babies, and changing their lives in ways unpredictable and permanent. Not Chiku. Boys could go to hell.

“When was the last time you saw him?” Chiku asked.

“Two week. Three week. He ask me how my baby doing. I tell him, fine. He give me twenty francs. He always give me money.”

“And that was it?” Chiku gazed at Tim who was still holding all of the things she had given him from her buried stash. “What about Dr. Fisher? Do you know why he’d be in my dad’s house?”

Rebecca dipped her head in thought then gave out with a startled grunt as the baby inside her gave a hefty kick. “Soon,” she said, “Any day my Abasi.” Then she staggered against Chiku.

“You okay? Maybe she’s coming out now.” Chiku was aghast.

“No. No. He. Not yet. No water.”

“Well, you can’t stand here. You have to sit, Rebecca. In the shade.”

Chiku pulled the pregnant girl into the cooler cover of the banana tree. “You want water? Something to drink?”

Rebecca leaned against the tree rather than risk getting herself into a position from which she couldn’t rise. She panted, holding a hand against her belly, Chiku watching that hand move not of its own volition but due to the child inside raring to get going with life.

Not for me, Chiku thought.

Rebecca said, “I okay.”

“You’re sure?”

“When the water break, then we know.”

“Know what?” Chiku asked.

“That the baby is coming,” Tim said. He placed his hands on his friend’s shoulders. They were trembling as if she were the one about to go into labor. “Honestly, Chiku, what do they teach you in Brookline, Massachusetts?”

“How to avoid reality.”

Chiku took Rebecca’s hand. It was cool and sweaty and on her ring finger she was wearing something that looked awfully familiar to Chiku. “Nice,” she said. “Amethyst. My color. My ring, actually. How’d you get it?”

“Your father give me.”

“Cool. It matches your dress.”

Chiku didn’t care that it was an old ring, one that she had either lost or forgotten some distant time in the past and that probably couldn’t even fit her fingers anymore. She just wondered why her father would have given this particular girl this particular ring.

“I think they kill him,” she said.

“What?” Chiku’s eyes darted from the purple colored ring to the black face of the Hutu teenager.

“They were mad mad.”

“Who?”

“Fisher. Your father. Dr. Kessel. They all mad. And the others.”

“What others?” Chiku asked. “Does Colonel Fundanga know?”

“Colonel Fundanga one of them,” Rebecca said. “I keep quiet. Bad enough in the camp. I don’t want to die.”

Rebecca let out a long breath, took in a deep mouthful of air, and let out her discomfort once again. Then she smiled at Chiku before saying, “They come for you next. You his daughter.”

Devolution

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Genre - Young Adult

Rating – PG

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Website www.peterclenott.net

Eternal Night by Jade Kerrion @JadeKerrion

EXCERPT

Ashra pushed past the blackness at the start of his memories, expecting deeper darkness. Instead, the colors shifted into shades of ochre and gray. Memories, older than his body, resided in his soul; memories of an Earth long since lost to them—a planet surrounded and nourished by water; images of tall buildings glistening beneath a benevolent sun, and of thriving cities filled with the bustle of humans; memories of quiet and intimate conversations beneath a silver moon, the same silver moon that now graced Malum Turris with its light, though a thousand years older and viewed only from beneath the protection of the dome.

She saw herself as he must have seen her, a much-younger icrathari, still hopeful for the future, never realizing that the Earth they had all known and loved was irretrievably lost. Had she ever looked that vulnerable? Had her smile ever been so beautiful, so filled with love as she looked upon—

“Rohkeus?” Oh, blessed Creator, was that stricken whisper her voice?

Ashra pulled back and stared at the human. Her mouth dropped open. Her heart pounded in her chest, its beat erratic. It couldn’t be. It simply couldn’t be—

She looked up at Tera. The other icrathari nodded.

Rohkeus’s soul reborn…in a human.

Ashra threw her head back and laughed, a despairing sound.

Elsker stepped forward. The sole male icrathari was slightly taller than the female icrathari, and dressed in a black silk shirt and linen pants. His silver hair was cropped short, and his light blue eyes were wide. “Rohkeus reborn? That’s impossible.”

Siri shrugged, her red gown shifting around her curvaceous frame. Her silver hair, cut short, framed her face. “Stranger things have happened.” Her pale violet gaze raked over the human. “At least he had the good sense to choose a pretty body.”

Ashra shook her head, the movement jolting her out of her daze. Her prince, her love, reduced to a human? Her slender fingers coiled into fists. Her golden eyes glittering, she pushed away from him, though her body trembled from the loss of his warmth. No, the human was not Rohkeus; he could never be Rohkeus.

Steeling herself against the gasp of pain that escaped from his lips as the anesthetizing effect of her kiss faded, Ashra rose to her feet with sinuous grace. “He is not one of us. Not anymore.” Nothing had been more devastating than losing Rohkeus to a human assassin. To see his soul reborn in that contemptible and weak race was an insult to the person Rohkeus had been.

“Should we turn him into a vampire?” Tera asked.

“Kill him. Set Rohkeus’s soul free.”

Siri seized Ashra’s hand before she could turn away. Siri’s lips, painted the same provocative color as her dress, shaped an O. “You’re not serious. How many people are offered a second chance at the love of a lifetime?”

A second chance? Her traitorous pulse raced even as her lips curled with disgust. “He’s human.”

“We can make him immortal—a vampire.”

Ashra swallowed hard. “But not an icrathari.”

Siri’s gaze fell. “No, of course not.”

“Kill him.”

“You can’t.” Siri stepped forward, placing herself between Ashra and the barely conscious human. “This is amazing. It’s never happened before—a soul reborn.”

“Rohkeus is dead, and I rule Aeternae Noctis.” She turned to Tera. “I told you to kill him.”

Tera hesitated for a fraction of a second, and then she shook her head. “I won’t do it, and neither will Siri or Elsker. If you want him dead, you’ll have to do it yourself.”

E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jade Kerrion developed a loyal reader base with her fan fiction series based on the MMORPG Guild Wars. She was accused of keeping her readers up at night, distracting them from work, housework, homework, and (far worse), from actually playing Guild Wars. And then she wondered why just screw up the time management skills of gamers? Why not aspire to screw everyone else up too?

So here she is, writing books that aspire to keep you from doing anything else useful with your time.

Her debut novel, Perfection Unleashed, spawned the Double Helix series which has won a total of seven science fiction awards, including first place in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2012 and the gold medal in Readers Favorites Awards 2013. She is also the author of Earth-Sim and When the Silence Ends, which placed first and second respectively in the 2013 Royal Palm Literary Awards, Young Adults category.

She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with her wonderfully supportive husband and her two young sons, Saint and Angel, (no, those aren’t their real names, but they are like saints and angels, except when they’re not.)

Connect with Jade: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Eternal Night ebook

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Genre - Fantasy, Paranormal

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author and the book

Connect with Jade Kerrion on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.jadekerrion.com

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Superhuman Nature by Brandon Overall #scifi #amreading #mustread

Neil stood for a moment in awe of what he had just done.  If it was possible for him to move his own body the same way he controlled the objects outside of himself, was there any limit to what he could do?  Neil let both of his arms go limp at his sides and thought back to how he felt as the tree was coming down.  He had to separate the sensation of moving his arm by contracting his muscles, and moving his arm with the raw energy of his mind.
Without contracting the muscles in his arms, Neil commanded them to raise up and stretch out to his sides.  The feeling was bizarre.  He felt weightless.  He could rotate all of his joints in ways that he couldn’t through the use of his nervous system.  He could apply force in any direction he wanted with any part of his body.
Neil crouched down into a ball, as if he were about to jump.  Instead of pushing off the ground with his thighs, Neil pushed his bone structure with his mind with a greater force than his legs would have been capable of.  He leaped almost ten feet into the air.
While falling back towards the ground, he realized that the impact from such a height could break a bone or dislocate an ankle.  He lifted up on his body and slowed his descent to a soft cushioned landing. He felt almost no force as he touched back down onto the soft earth.  He considered that if he could apply force to make himself jump that high, could he simply lift himself off the ground?  Could Neil actually make himself fly?
The thought of this idea was incredible.  His heart started pounding at the mere possibility of it.  There was only one way to find out.  Neil stood straight up and glanced up towards the sky.  He put his entire body under the influence of his mind all at once.  He slowly commanded it to lift off the ground just like the dumbbell, and Neil felt himself getting lighter as the force holding him to the earth slowly dissipated.
Neil felt the sensation that his feet were dangling.  He looked down, and was astonished by what he saw.  He was almost six inches off the ground with absolutely nothing supporting his weight other than the power of his mind.
Neil started laughing again.  He was living everyone’s childhood dream.  He was actually flying.
SuperhumanNature
Superhuman Nature is Brandon Overall's first novel. It was written and published during his first deployment to Afghanistan as a 2nd Lieutenant in late 2013.
Neil Hitchens was a senior ROTC Cadet in college. He was just weeks away from graduating and becoming an Officer in the United States Army, until a strange dream set off a chain of events that would twist his life into something he could have never prepared for.
In the days following his dream, several strange happenings occurred that he began to suspect were the result of his own actions. Before long, he discovered that he had the ability to control the world around him with his mind.
What started out as an unpredictable ability quickly evolved into an extraordinary power that had the capacity to change the world. It didn't take long for the government to find out what Neil could do.
They knew having such limitless potential on the side of the US Military could give them limitless political influence, and they would stop at nothing to get Neil to do their bidding. They would find out what happens when you back a dangerous animal into a corner.
Neil spent his whole life believing he would amount to greatness, but he never expected how greatness could corrupt even the most innocent of minds.
Buy @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Science Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Last Finesse by Brian Bloom @BrianB_Aust

From Chapter 37

‘Gramps wasn’t around anymore. Successful industrialists don’t have time for their daughters. My mother had her hands full with the boys. Teenagers crave attention. That’s all I was doing. It turned out I was quite normal. I finally grew up. Sports were helpful.’

He was as intrigued with her as ever. ‘What kind of sports?’

‘Gymkhana horse riding, till I was 15, and then some board surfing, on the odd occasion, and then, more recently, board sailing. I love to be at one with nature.’ She flicked back her hair and looked up at the sun.

‘So,’ he said in response, ‘we both know how to ride a horse – that’s a start isn’t it?’

‘Yeah,’ I guess so, she replied, ‘but I’d rather play golf.’

‘I’d be delighted if you’d play with me,’ he stated enthusiastically. ‘What did you do when you were “finished” at that “finishing school” of yours?’

‘I’ve told you,’ she answered: ‘my old man wanted me “barefoot and pregnant” in the kitchen next door – he thought it was time I settled down. We had a hell of a fight, but I had Guido on my side, and my mother finally came to the party and supported me.

‘I enrolled in a journalism course at Texas U, in Austin. I did quite well. My old man finally acknowledged my existence by coming to my graduation ceremony. And then our relationship became an armed truce, when I “informed” him I’d decided to go out on my own.’ Using her index and middle fingers, she drew quotation marks in the air, around the word “informed”.

‘That wasn’t his idea of how a good Italian woman should conduct herself. I basically told him, “Go fuck yourself!”, but I used more diplomatic language – as they taught me at finishing school. He finally came to realise he’d been a failure as a father, and backed off. From time to time, he still dangles my trust fund in my face, in the hope he can make me see reason and live my life according to his paternal script.’

‘Right,’ Luke acknowledged. ‘And your mother?’

‘Mum died when I was 20, a week before my 21st-birthday party. That rug was also pulled out from under me, and it was the last straw, as far as I was concerned. That’s when I moved to San Francisco to start living my own life properly.

‘That’s also why I wanted to know your views about gay marriage. Like Sydney, San Fran’s got a large gay community, and I’m lucky enough to have a lot of gay friends.’

His ‘naughty streak’ surfaced again. ‘And if you come to live in Australia among the “large gays”?’

She smiled, but was clearly fixated on wrapping up her story. ‘Some of them might miss me.’

‘Did you struggle to get a job?’

‘No,’ she answered, ‘not really. A few doors were opened to me because I topped my class and was the daughter of Louis Marchetti.’

Luke imagined the opening doors, and indulged in a quick fantasy about banging his boys up against her open doors . . . ‘So,’ he remarked, ‘he wasn’t entirely a waste of rations . . . Hang on a second: did you just say you topped your class?’

She had a palpable air of relief that she’d finally told her story. ‘Look, Luke, he’s not really a bad guy; it’s just he’s been hanging on to his old values in the modern world. I’m convinced that somewhere deep inside him, he’s just as sad as I am that we don’t have a relationship. I’m his only daughter. Maybe, if you and I finally get together, it’ll serve as an ice breaker.’

‘You topped your class?’ he persisted.

‘Yes,’ she replied, with a trace of impatience. ‘So what?

He considered his next question. ‘Can I ask you something personal?’

‘Sure,’

The Last Finesse

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Genre - Conspiracy Thriller

Rating – MA (15+)

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cast in Blood (Morgan Blackstone) by Michelle Rabe @michrabe

NEW ORLEANS SEP 4, 2009

The Assassin’s voice boomed through the closed double doors to the study for the fifth time since he’d entered the room with Morgan’s Blood Sons, almost five hours before.  Marcus cringed as the doors were flung open, and Nicholas strode out, rage radiating from every inch of his six–foot, four–inch frame. Storm–gray eyes landed on Marcus, narrowed to slits, and he stalked past, commanding him to follow with an imperious wave of his right hand. Not wanting to piss the Assassin off more, Marcus bit back a snide comment, and followed him up the sweeping staircase to the mansion’s upper floors.

“Damn it all to hell, Old Man!” Nicholas roared as he began pacing the landing at the top of the stairs. He wanted Marcus to throw himself against his temper to take the edge off.

Ye Gods, Marcus thought, we’ve done this more times than I’d care to count in the centuries we’ve known one another, but this is different. Well, something other than the fact that we’ve barely spoken a civil word to one another in almost two hundred years.

“I take it the boys couldn’t add anything to what we already knew. In spite of the almost five hour interrogation?” Marcus asked, fighting to rein in his own temper, leaning against the banister at the top of the stairs.

“Five hours?” Nicholas stopped moving. He turned to Marcus, meeting his eyes. The other vampire nodded.  “It was really that long?”

“Yes. What’s next, Assassin?” Marcus asked, letting some of the frustration he felt give his voice a hard edge. The last thing they needed right now was for Nicholas to go soft.

“We can’t do anything before the sun sets,” he said, after giving Marcus a long, appraising look.

He’s assessed my well–being and decided I’m not fit for the field. I’ve seen that look too many times before and know better than to argue with him, Marcus thought, trying to work out a logical counter argument.

“I haven’t slept.” Nicholas sighed. “You look like death warmed over and those two are rattled.” He nodded toward the room where he’d left the younger vampires.

“Fine.” Marcus nodded. “I took the liberty of having my staff get us some SUVs. If Morgan’s alive, she’s going to need fresh blood. We’re going to need the extra room.” Marcus was almost certain that he didn’t have to mention that, but the desperate look in Nicholas’s eyes led him to believe that there was no such thing as being too careful in this situation.

“She has to be alive, Marcus.”

“We’ll find her.” Marcus answered, feeling like an ass for lying. We both know that the odds suck. This could be nothing more than trying to find her body. Gods, whoever did this is going to pay.

“I have a very bad feeling about this,” the Assassin muttered, looking through Marcus. Nicholas’s mind was turning over what he knew, making connections and searching for others.

“How so?” Marcus asked, prompting Nicholas to think aloud, knowing it helped him make connections he otherwise missed, and it gave Marcus the opportunity to make a few as well.

“The security footage Danny sent over from the club’s parking lot shows Morgan and her attackers, but never their faces.”

“The club has cameras outside?”

“Apparently one of the human staff had some trouble right after the club opened. Morgan had them installed after that.”

“They could have scoped out the cameras. Not too difficult when you know what to look for,” Marcus muttered, his brows drawn together. “Why didn’t anyone see her being attacked, if it was caught on camera? Why are we just learning about this now? Just because she somehow jacked my mind and knocked me flat on my ever–loving ass.” Marcus’s words sped up as he continued, agitation given voice.

“The footage is stored on massive hard drives but not reviewed unless an incident is reported. Since no one reported her disappearance…” Nicholas’s voice trailed off.

“I have a feeling Morgan will be revising that policy when she returns.”

“If she returns.”

Michelle Rabe

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Genre - Paranormal Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://paperbackvamp.tumblr.com/

The Man Who Lived at the End of the World by Robert Davies @ahundredstories

The Man Who Lived at the End of the World

September, 2013: When the summer ended, so did the world.

Staggering under a volley of meteorite hits, cities the world over are evacuated by the military as violent earthquakes, floods, storms and fires rage across the planet.

The journey unfolds through the jaded yet childlike eyes of Silas Stanley, a recently escaped psychiatric patient who must travel hundreds of miles across a devastated Britain to find his dying daughter before the world ends. Through ruined and deserted cities, flooded countryside and burning fields, Silas makes his way from an evacuated London all the way to his old home town in the Lake District, all the while startled and amazed by the world around him. En route he must avoid the strict martial law that is in force, and steer clear of the huge nuclear explosions being set off by the military in a last-ditch attempt to correct the earth’s faltering orbit.

On a world knocked off course and brought to its knees, love for his family finally forces Silas to face the enormity of his own past with just as much bravery as his uncertain future.

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Genre - Apocalyptic fiction

Rating – PG

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Website http://robertdavies.co