Monthly Archives: March 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

My teaser is a book I’m just starting, I’ve been waiting ages for it so finally my turn came at the library.

Ashes by Ilsa J.  Bick

Page 13

What no one warned her about was that when you had no sense of smell at all, a lot of memories fizzled. Like the way the smell of a pine tree conjured a quick brain-snapshot of tinsel and Christmas lights and a glittery angel, or the spice of nutmeg and buttery cinnamon made you flash to a bright kitchen and your mother humming as she pressed pie crust into a glass dish. With no sense of smell, your memories dropped like pennies out of a ripped pocket, until the past was ashes and your parents were blanks: nothing more than holes in Swiss cheese.

 

Moment of Kairos excerpt and giveaway

Moment of Kairos is a recently released Sci fi/fantasy book from author Nathan Burns. I had him on for an interview Saturday. Today is an excerpt and to one lucky winner a copy of the book is up for grabs. Please note it is available in mobi format for kindle.Just leave a comment saying you want it. Ends April 7th

Those who don’t win can find it on Amazon and Smashwords

Four worlds. Four ages. Four struggles through deserts, demons, criminal underworlds and overwhelming odds. Elian searches for answer to the mysterious blackouts, led forward by his only clue: an encoded diary. Ben stalks the streets at night in search of horrific creatures not of this world. Alexander hunts down criminals, always intent on doing the right thing whatever the cost. And Prometheus tries to save his village without dying in the process.

Separate but intertwined, they press on, linked somehow to the mysterious John, who watches and waits – for it seems each of the four is part of something much greater than they could ever have imagined.

 

Prologue

My name is John.

I am still trying to figure out who I am; just like most other people I guess.

I prefer to have things like this in common with others. They keep me anchored in my humanity, keep me sociable and, above all, let me know I’m still a person – like everybody else.

But I am not quite like everybody else.

Elian

Elian sat at a small table at a window of the cafe, looking out over the desert beyond the quarantine. It was quiet in the shop, just a few people sat on old metal chairs, all holding hushed conversations amongst themselves. Most eyes were fixed on the black analogue television mounted in the corner of the room. It was showing a news broadcast, though it constantly sputtered and cut out to white noise, only to again present a picture of a concerned female reporter a few moments later.

“We’re sorry to re… city of Orion is the latest … been no contact since two d… assumed to have gone dark …” The murmurs grew slightly louder, though after a few moments it became clear that no one in the cafe had any friends or family in Orion, otherwise their reactions would have been much more pronounced. After all, that was what they were listening for; news that the location of a loved one had fallen off the grid, gone ‘dark’ as the reporters called it. Elian knew that feeling of anxiety, hoping to hear something but equally not hoping to hear anything at all. He didn’t watch the news for that reason anymore.

The world was broken. It had started three weeks ago, which was when he heard about the first blackout. Humanity lost contact with an entire city, an industrial sprawl called Cepheus. Communications suddenly went dead, like the whole place had just been switched off. Shortly after that phones everywhere died, then the satellites went down, then any kind of wireless signal just wouldn’t work. Computers short-circuited, compasses went crazy, cars wouldn’t start – the only electrical thing that worked was anything with simple circuitry that was hardwired into a main power grid. No one was sure why, but then no one even knew what was going on. No one had been inside a dark zone and come back; no government had stepped up to take charge. It seemed like civilisation was being quietly eradicated, one major city at a time.

There were more after the first of course – right now it was estimated a third of the world had gone dark, and the blackouts showed no sign of slowing. And all of this was why Elian sat on the edge of a dark zone in the middle of the desert, thumbing through a handwritten diary written entirely in code, contemplating just how far he would get when he decided to get up and find out what really happened when a place went dark.

The bell at the front of the cafe tinkled as the door opened and a short, wiry young man wearing grease-stained clothes walked in. Unlike most people his eyes didn’t move instantly to the television, which Elian knew was the only one working in this little desert town. Normally that would mean either that the newcomer had already lost everyone to the dark, or he didn’t have anyone to lose.

He moved to a table at the opposite side of the room to Elian and sat down, seemingly so preoccupied with his own thoughts he barely noticed where he was going, bumping into chairs as he walked. The cafe owner took his order, just a hot drink, and then moved away. Regardless of the state of global electronic currency, cash still meant something in remote towns like this, where it had accepted only cash before the markets collapsed. Elian glanced down once more at the diary on the table in front of him, closed and pocketed it, then stood and walked over to the table where the man sat.

“Good afternoon,” Elian said. “Can I sit down?” It was a moment before the man replied, so distracted he was.

“Uh, sure,” he responded, looking a little surprised.

“Thanks.” He had to be some sort of mechanic or engineer from the state of his clothes. Probably out of work since the cars stopped running, or the factory he worked at shut down. “I’m Elian.”

“Caleb,” he nodded.

“Hello Caleb. I couldn’t help but notice you seem a bit distracted – is anything wrong?” At this Caleb laughed shortly. He had unruly brown hair in need of a cut, and stubble that would be a beard by tomorrow. He couldn’t be that old – early twenties maybe.

“I’d say there’s plenty wrong,” he gestured towards the TV, but then his face turned serious. “But yeah, there’s something else. It’s my family, live over there.” He jerked his head in the direction of the window, where the quarantine barricade was visible. Two soldiers in full military gear stood by a wooden red barrier, wide enough to block a single car and nothing else. It seemed more symbolic than anything.

“You mean in Planes?” Planes was an even smaller town than this one, barely a town in fact. It was the only settlement between the town they were in, White Springs, and the overlooking mountain, which Elian wasn’t sure had a name. Caleb nodded, as Elian knew he would – he had already guessed at Caleb’s story. “On one hand, I’m sorry to hear that. But on the other, I’ve got an offer for you.” Caleb stared at him, now somewhat suspiciously. “I’m planning to travel into the dark zone later today, and my route will take me through Planes.” Caleb continued to stare at him, clearly not sure how to react. “I’m not asking for money, and I don’t have any to give you. What I’m asking is if you want to come with me.”

There were several long moments of silence, during which time the waiter brought Caleb a steaming hot drink and asked Elian if he wanted anything, which he didn’t. Caleb idly stirred his cup with a spoon, now watching the TV. Elian let Caleb mull over his decision for another minute before speaking.

“I’ll give you some time. It’s early in the morning now; I’ll be leaving in the afternoon. If you decide to come with me, I’ll be coming back here before I go.” Elian got up and left the cafe, shielding his eyes against the bright sun as the door tinkled shut behind him. He looked around. White Springs consisted mainly of four or five intersecting roads, with buildings lining each one. Most roads tapered off into sand except one, which led off on a long and lonely route to the rest of the world.

The town was nearly empty now, as most people had moved away from the dark zone, hoping to escape its spread. But the dark didn’t seem to hop from town to adjacent town; it was random, sometimes striking two opposite sides of the world in as many days. He looked over to the military quarantine and beyond. This place really did feel like the edge of the world, with the complete unknown lying just out of sight.

The door tinkled behind him, and he turned his head. A blonde woman exited the cafe, looked around, spotted him and strode over with some intent.

“I overheard you talking in the cafe,” she said. “Are you actually going in there?” She was middle-aged, mid-thirties Elian guessed.

“Yes, I am.” Before he could say anything else she cut him off.

“Did someone you know live in Planes?” She was studying him intently, as if she suspected he might be lying.

“No, but it’s as good a place as any to find out what’s happened,” he replied.

“That’s why you’re going? To find out what the blackouts are?”

“Who are you?” he asked abruptly. He couldn’t help but feel like this woman had an ulterior motive.

“Olive,” she said, shaking his hand. “I’ve been stuck in this part of the country for weeks, since the third blackout. I’m a journalist,” she explained. “Story of the century but there’s no one to report it to. I worked for News Now, HQ right in the middle of Libra.” She spoke fast but in a measured way, clearly used to quick conversations filled with information that needed to be captured and remembered.

“Right. Elian, though I suppose you overheard that.”

“No actually. Elian. OK. What I’m really getting at is that I want to come with you. I’ve been trying to find an escort to take me in to a dark zone, but no one will.” She paused. “What do you think?”

Elian contemplated this. The more people the better, up to a point, and it seemed unlikely many people he asked would even start the journey.

“I can’t pay you, I’m running out of cash fast,” she said while he pondered.

“Not a problem. I don’t have a problem with you coming. I’ll be back here later today. It’ll take us a few days to get to Planes, so get some supplies. Food, water, something to sleep on.”

“Great. OK, I’ll be back here later. Nice to meet you.” Olive walked off towards the centre of town.

Elian watched her for a few seconds, wondering if she could be trusted, or if she’d even show up, then turned and headed down a different road. There was just one bar in the town, and it was still open. They were running low on foreign spirits but there were enough alternatives to keep the regulars happy. Inside it was a cheery enough place, mainly because the walls were so thick and the windows so dark that it seemed to shut out the dying world outside.

Elian entered and closed the door behind him, looking around. The place was empty except for the barman and one man sitting in a corner with a drink. Elian knew who he was, and had been expecting to find him here – the man had been in here nearly every day since Elian arrived in town. Elian nodded to the barman, ordered a drink, paid and took it over to the man. He was heavily built, dangerous looking, with short light hair. Someone you’d want on your side in a bar fight.

“Aiden,” he greeted the man, “I’m Elian. I’ve got an offer for you.” He sat down opposite the man and pushed the drink across to him. Aiden looked briefly at the drink, then pulled it towards him next to his nearly empty glass.

“What sort of offer?” Aiden asked in a low voice.

“I’m going to Planes this afternoon, and further if I can. I could do with an escort like you accompanying me.”

Aiden watched Elian, sliding his glass back and forth across the table. Elian was almost sure Aiden had served in some sort of military and now worked as private security. Given that he’d been spending most of his time in a bar, Elian surmised he’d been out of work for a while.

“Paid job?” asked Aiden.

“No.” Aiden leant back, plainly disinterested. “But if there’s anything left at Planes, you’re welcome to help yourself to anything valuable. I’m not interested in getting money out of this.” Aiden’s face remained blank. Elian sat in silence with him for a minute,

“No one’s come back from a dark zone yet,” Aiden stated.

“No, not that I’ve heard of.”

“Then why do you want to go in? You lose someone in there?”

“I want to find out what happened to all those places. It’s impossible to know how much time we’ve got left – a blackout could hit anywhere, including here, at any time.”

“There’s something else though isn’t there? Why do you really want to go?” Elian had a feeling that Aiden wouldn’t even consider coming with him unless he was satisfied he knew the truth. But he wasn’t sure he could trust Aiden with everything, not yet at least. He chose his words carefully before continuing.

“A little while ago I became aware of a – group, of people, that apparently knew that all of this,” Elian gestured towards the door and the outside world, “was going to happen sometime before it actually did.” He let that sink in for a few moments. “Not only that, but they were preparing for it, and had begun searching for a way to stop it.”

“What sort of people? Government?” It seemed Elian had at least piqued Aiden’s interest, though whether he believed any of what Elian was saying was another story.

“I don’t know. Some sort of research group. Could be private or government funded. What I do know is that they were supposed to be based just past Planes, at the base of that mountain.” Aiden finished his glass and moved on to the fresh one.

“Who’s your source?”

“It’s not a who. I came across some research notes that point towards this place.”

“Can I see them?”

Elian had known this was coming, and it placed him in a complicated situation. If he handed the diary to Aiden, Aiden might try to leave with it and simply sell it. If he didn’t show it, Aiden probably wouldn’t believe him. Even if he did let Aiden read it, it was gibberish without the cipher words, of which Elian had only figured out two. At the start of every new entry the cipher changed, so there had to be at least ten different key words. And even if Elian showed him his translation, he still might not believe it. Elian wasn’t completely sure of its legitimacy himself but it was at least a slim ray of hope in this world.

“Yes, if you agree to come with me, and meet me in the cafe on the edge of town this afternoon.” Aiden snorted.

“Why not now?”

“I think you know why not now. You don’t know if you can trust me, but I don’t know if I can trust you. I could really use your help, and just showing up later would let me know you’re willing to take the first step of this journey.” Elian stood up. “Think about it. Whether this is real or not, or even if it’s real but there’s nothing left of it, isn’t it worth finding out before the whole world drops off the map?”

Elian left the bar, shielding his eyes again from the bright light. The sun really was high in the sky today. He had one more place to visit before he was ready to leave.

Sunday Shorts

Sunday Shorts, a new meme by the Cabin Goddess is one I was invited to participate in so here goes.

The point of the meme is to share short stories, one you could finish in one sitting or well a week end. But novella max and a cheap read. That way you just can’t say no. You know those quick tasty reads that you can’t believe how much story was crammed in and you must share or a short story you’d love to get your hands on and want to point out your desire for. Yeah this meme is for that.

The last short okay novella I read was by Chuck Wendig. Before I even read the story I wanted to run away with his brain, seriously this author is a recent find of mine and omg I am dying at how awesome he seems to be. Shotgun Gravy is an Atlanta Burns story a kick ass character with flaws but a strength you simply must admire. I have already ordered his book Blackbirds which has a toe curling fantastic cover it’s sequel Mockingbird is on my wishlist. Oh heart palpitations.

But back to Shotgun Gravy. I read it, loved it, reviewed it and now I’m mentioning it again. It’s free or cheap on amazon depending if you have amazon prime. It is a great way to test our the waters with a new author. So you know go get a taste.

“Sometimes she wakes up at night, smelling that gunpowder smell. Ears ringing. A whimpering there in the darkness. Doesn’t always hit her at night, either. Might be in the middle of the day. She should be smelling pizza, or garbage, or cat s**t wafting from the house next door, but instead what she smells is that acrid tang of gunsmoke. All up in her nose. Clinging there like a tick…”

So begins the tale of Atlanta Burns, a young girl with a grim past lingering at the fringes of her droll and dreary high school existence. She’s content to remain there, too, or so she thinks: soon, however, she’s drawn in a battle against two separate groups of bullies – a trio of local troublemakers and a group of Neo-Nazi gay bashers – to save a pair of new and unexpected friends.

But actions have consequences, and by fighting back, Atlanta discovers she’s kicked over a log, thus revealing what hides squirming underneath.

It’s just her, her friends, and a .410 squirrel gun against a handful of bullies and a conspiracy whose worst aspects remain yet hidden.

Can she triumph?

Will her victory be paid in unseen sacrifices?

Or is fighting back just asking for a face full of bad news?

Interview with author Nathan Burns

I have author Nathan Burns on today. His book Moment of Kairos was recently published. Glad to have him on to share with all of you about him and on Monday more about the book plus a giveaway. Stay tuned for that right now say hi to Nathan.

 

Please tell me about yourself -

Hello. My name is Nathan Joshua Burns, and I’ve recently written and self-published my first novel, Moment of Kairos, a young adult sci-fi / fantasy adventure. I’ve always been interested in writing stories ever since I first got my hands on a computer and realised how easy and fun it was to create entirely new worlds. Like a lot of people I never got around to sitting down and finishing anything substantial until a few months ago, when I decided to just do the legwork and get something finished.

Why did you decide to go the self publish route? -

I had a look at a few publishers but I’d always planned to self publish. I write because I enjoy it, and I put a book together because I want it to be available for people to read – what I didn’t want to do was send out a lot of emails and wait several months only to be told I should have self-published all those months before.

What has your post publication experience been like? -

Alot of fun. It’s great knowing that I’ve not just created something, but gone the distance in terms of re-reading and editing. It’s nice having the book set in stone so that you can put it down and start on something new.

What are you reading now? -

Just started Sourcery by Terry Pratchett – I seem to be slowly working my way through the Discworld series when I’m not reading anything else.
Favorite books and authors? -

David Eddings is both one of my favourite authors and a big influence on my writing. Both sets of series (Sparhawk and Garion) and The Redemption of Althalus are just brilliant books.

Tell us about Moment of Kairos -

I had a lot of fun writing Moment of Kairos; it’s not quite like any other book I’ve read, which I think (hope) is a good thing. The way it plays out is fairly unique as far as I can tell, but it’s not so different as to not be enjoyable. After all, that’s why I wrote it – because I enjoyed writing it, and because I want other people to enjoy reading it.
And the sequels -

I’m currently writing Arcanus: The Hidden City, which is a direct sequel to Moment of Kairos. After that there will be one more book which will complete the trilogy, and hopefully leave everyone who read it feeling like they want to go back to the beginning and read it again!

Flidderbugs by Jonathan Gould book tour

I am pleased to be taking part in the Flidderbugs tour a book I own and look forward to reading. Thanks to Jonathan for being on. Keep in mind people that one lucky commenter tour wide will win a $25 amazon gift card. Check out all the blogs in the tour and increase your chances.

Please tell us about yourself –

I was born on the planet Krupthrup in the year 56723. I’m eight foot tall with four legs, eight arms (5 right, 3 left) and an extra kneecap.

Well maybe not exactly, but sometimes I do let me imagination run away with me I guess that’s one of the most important thing about me – I love making things up. And I think that I’m quite good at it as well. Most of the time anyway. I suspect most of you saw through that alien thing pretty quickly.

What else would you like to know? I live in Melbourne, Australia, which they keep telling us is the most livable city in the world. Besides writing, I also love music and enjoy playing guitar. As a guitarist, I’m an excellent writer.

Is writing a new passion? –

Definitely not. It’s something I always enjoyed and was (I hope) quite good at. After school, it did go on the back-burner as I got on with the serious business of trying to establish a career. Then, as I turned out to be quite bad at establishing a career, it began to seep back into my life. I’ve been at it now for over fifteen years but the rise of indie publishing in the last year has definitely given me a major boost.

Your writing doesn’t fit into a box, I like that what about being different from the norm appeals to you? –

I don’t know if there’s anything particularly that appeals to me about it. It’s more that I’m not sure I have a choice. I write the stories that come to me – they turn out as they turn out. I don’t deliberately try to make them different from the norm. They just seem to end up that way. Having said that, I do have a somewhat stubborn streak that forces me to not go with the flow. Put me in a room full of bankers and economists and I’ll become a raging communist. Put me in with a bunch of union reps and I’ll become an unapologetic capitalist. But in both cases, I’ll do it quietly because I’m actually quite shy.

What is your writing space and routine like?-

My writing space is a great big mess. It’s the study in our house. It’s also the spare room where all our junk ends up, so it’s a bit of an obstacle course actually getting to the computer.

My routine is about as neat as the study. It’s really about scrapping for time whenever I can make it, especially as I work full time and have a young family.

What are you reading now?-

This post – to check there are no mitsakes. Apart from that, I’m actually between books. Over the last week, I’ve been reading kid’s books by a rather good Australian writer called Morris Gleitzman

Favorite authors and books? –

I think that question is partly answered by the next – huge Douglas Adams fan. Other than that, I like authors who go against the trends, whether literary or popular. I’ve recently read and enjoyed books by people like Franz Kafka and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. As for more popular stuff, Neil Gaiman and Diana Wynne Jones are two favourites.

I see on your blog that you like the Hitch-Hikers Guide, a fellow frood :) if you could go bouncing around the galaxy who would you go with?-

To be honest, I’m not sure how keen I am to go bouncing around the galaxy. I’m definitely a two-feet-on-the-ground sort of person. And I suspect I’d probably get terribly space sick as well. So I suppose I’d have to choose someone who would be fairly patient, willing to hold my hand when I got nervous, and preferably someone with a bit of medical training as well. If any froods out there fit the bill, please let me know.

What kind of reader would Flidderbugs appeal to?

I really hope Flidderbugs will appeal to a broad audience. It’s about talking bugs, so hopefully that will be fun for kids. But it also has elements of humour and satire that I think a lot of adults would appreciate. I really wrote it for myself, and I have a strong streak of both the kid and the adult inside me. I think there are a lot of people like that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you tell us more about it? -

I call it a satire or a fable – maybe it’s a strange kind of mixture of both – a sable or fatire? It’s about a group of insects, the Flidderbugs, who spend a lot of time arguing about things that are really not important at all (ie how many points there are on a leaf) while completely losing sight of things that are actually very important.

The central character, Kriffle, is the one who is on a mission to make the Flidderbugs come to their senses before it’s too late.

Jonathan Gould is a Melbourne-based writer and doodler.
He calls his stories “dag-lit” because they’re the sort of stories that don’t easily fit into the standard genres. Some might think of them as comic fantasies, or modern fairytales for the young and the young-at-heart.
Over the years, his writing has been compared to Douglas Adams, Monty Python, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, the Goons, Dr Seuss and even Enid Blyton (in a good way).

daglit.blogspot.com

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