Thursday, May 29, 2014

Willie Stewart Sr.

Review of Tarnished by Willie Stewart Sr.

It's a good story that will make you think twice 

about hospitals!

Willie Stewart Sr

2MCH4YA Publishing
Paperback page count is 236

Genre: Fiction Medical Thriller, Adult

Book Description:

Killing patients in the ICU became a thrill for Dale, RN until his equally prolific murdering mother, Isabel, started feeling threatened by his new girlfriend while working in the same hospital. Will mothers love trump the new love in his life?

Dale, a young male Registered Nurse accidentally kills a patient in the Intensive Care Unit. When he suffers no consequence he soon finds that he is falling in love with killing patients. As his confidence develops he begins to develop a relationship with the new Respiratory Therapist on the unit. His mother, Isabel feels threatened with losing her boy and Dale finds he must now contend with the equally prolific killing abilities of his over protective mother who works right alongside him.

taRNished is a medical thriller that takes you on a journey of innocence, murder, sex, and domination which invokes the question in the readers mind while being entertained, “how do I get out of the hospital alive?”

Author Willie Stewart is a critical care Registered Nurse with 13 plus years of nursing experience who believes that an overburdened, understaffed nursing work force will lend itself to more and more abuses with the advent of Obamacare which is adding tens of millions more patients into the healthcare system. The subject matter of the medical thriller taRNished is timely and will be for the next few years for the following reasons:

  • The Registered Nurse work force is aging out with average age 45
  • There is a prolonged nursing shortage and there are not enough nursing instructors
  • The baby boomers are all retiring and getting older and entering the hospital in more critical condition
  • OBAMACARE will add an additional 22 million newly insured people to an already overburdened healthcare system
  • If the debate over pathway to citizenship is successful, 11 million more undocumented workers will be adding to this burden on the fragile American healthcare system
Real killers like healthcare villain Kermit Gosnell MD, serial killer Charles Cullen RN, and more have thrived in the previous system. People like them and Dale, RNfrom the blockbuster novel taRNished will find it much easier to thrive in the coming years.

Willie L Stewart Sr. Biography

Willie L. Stewart is a critical care Registered Nurse, author, novelist, entrepreneur, member of the Tampa Writers Alliance, and the Florida Writers Association. His debut novel taRNished promises to entertain while shaking the very foundation of healthcare and the public’s confidence in that system in order to spur on debate for proper reforms. With over 13 years in various critical care settings he brings a level of expertise to the relevant topics in today’s media that are highlighted in the debut novel taRNished. With 2014 quickly heralding in the full implementation of the divisive OBAMACARE healthcare plan, Stewart notes that over ten million more people will be shoved into an already overburdened healthcare system. In addition Stewart notes that the pathway to citizenship initiatives will add millions more undocumented workers to this system and these increasing numbers along with other factors will allow pathological individuals to thrive in the environment created. Willie has taken a unique approach to marketing and promoting his debut novel. He has given his lead character, Dale RN a registered nurse serial killer, a significant online presence. A marketer/publicist has lauded Stewart for these efforts and says he is breaking ground. Dale RN has his own blog, is on facebooktwitterpinterest, linkedin, google plus, and more. Through Stewart’s herculean efforts Dale communicates and interacts with the public on a regular basis.

In addition to Willie Stewart’s efforts on his debut novel, Willie Stewart has published online articles, written various successful worldwide press releases, runs an independent record label (2MCH4YA) and publishing company and is a manager for indie recording artists. He has been an executive producer of an award winning online talk show that won the award against the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Steve Harvey, and Michael Baisden. The show was the only indie talk show in consideration against the heavyweights. Stewart has been the President/Production coordinator of a music foundation before stepping down. With all of his irons in the fire, Willie Stewart manages to find time to romance and fall in love all over again after 23 years of marriage to the lovely Shannon Stewart who is also a Registered Nurse of similar experience and an aspiring writer. With three healthy adult children and two grandchildren, Stewart only needs to look inward for motivation.

One day while I was plugged into the Twitterverse author Willie Stewart Sr. asked me if I wanted to see his book trailer. He said,"Do you want to see my trailer? It's the first RAP book trailer ever and there's nothing like it." I am SO easy... I couldn't say no to that... of course I wanted to see his trailer! He sent me the link and I watched the trailer and it was actually very good, hmmm - props to the creator.

The story of Dale Wilson is very good. The majority of the story takes place in Orlando Florida at the Orlando's Dyson Memorial Hospital. Dale Wilson, RN and his mom Isabel works there caring for patients and "releasing" patients as they please. Dale and mom are very good at what they do - so good that they get it all done during work hours. Then comes Stephanie - wait until you meet her! Whoa, enough said about her.

I liked the story but was freaked out by it a few times especially when I thought about all of the stories I heard about people who went into hospitals and didn't come out alive. The story world is believable, the characters are well developed and again believable. Mr. Stewart paced the story in a way that kept me interested. Although this is not my favorite genre I did enjoy reading about Dale, his crazy mom, and his girlfriend Stephanie. It's good, believable, and frightening -good job!

Buy it on amazon

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Suzanne Johnson

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway by Suzanne Johnson

Armchair Traveling—with Magic
Suzanne Johnson

One of the reasons I love the urban fantasy genre is the ability to take a real world setting, with its rich history and culture, and blend it so deeply with paranormal elements that the new fictional world itself seems real.

So when I set my Sentinels of New Orleans series in my adopted hometown, I wanted a reader to finish each book having felt as if he or she had been there, as if the reader could visit the real New Orleans and expect to see one of my wizards or mermen or other characters pass on the street or be chowing on a po-boy at the next table. I wanted the setting to be a character, a destination.

The way I went about it, and something that I think sets the Sentinels series apart, is that I put each aspect of my worldbuilding to a rigorous “New Orleans” test. How could each element be twisted in such a way that made it unique to the South Louisiana culture?

The overall world of magic, of course, is not confined to the greater New Orleans area, but to make the magical world “local,” I devised an architecture that works sort of like an Oreo. The bottom cookie is the modern world of humans. The top cookie is the vast preternatural world, the Beyond. The cream filling is a borderland where preternaturals of all stripes can meet, where it is always night except for an hour at dusk and dawn, where the moon is always full.

The borderlands closest to the modern city of New Orleans is called Old Orleans, and there you can find vestiges of the city’s past coexisting in an often-uncomfortable clash of styles and cultures. (To spread this world on a broader scale, between the city of Detroit and the Beyond, for example, one would find Old Detroit.)

I also thought it was important to make sure my paranormal beings had a local feel. The heroine, DJ, is a wizard sentinel (think “border guard”) who grew up in the New Orleans Lakeview area. Her former partner Alex Warin is from Picayune, Mississippi, an hour north of New Orleans, so he is more Southern than New Orleanian (the native NOLA accent is more Bronx than Birmingham).

There are not only werewolves, but loup-garou (also locally called “rougarou”), a legendary swamp monster in South Louisiana—misbehaving children were warned that the rougarou would get them if they didn’t clean up their acts. (Warped, right?) In my world, the garou are rogue werewolves who reject the pack structure, have poor self-control, and are exceptionally strong and violent.

Louisiana has more than 20,000 square miles of bayou and swampland, most located in the southern half of the state, so it seemed impossible to imagine that in a paranormal world, water species such as merfolk and nymphs would be abundant. To further localize my water species, my merfolk are aquatic shapeshifters and mostly of Acadian (aka “Cajun”) descent. They mainstream easily with humans when unshifted, and many of them work in the region’s seafood industry. (Yeah, a tad cannibalistic). The nymphs have recently unionized into the Greater Mississippi River Nymphs and are busily setting up “massage parlors” around the French Quarter—something my heroine, DJ, will have to get under control soon.

Vampires aren’t exclusive to New Orleans, of course, but the master vampire of the city, called a Regent, was as a human a French-born owner of one of the plantations that in the 1700s stretched along the Mississippi River parishes. Etienne is a modern sort of vampire with old-world roots in the local region.

Finally, there is New Orleans herself, and I decided to pay homage to the rich history and culture of the city by creating a class of paranormal beings called the Historical Undead—famous humans given immortality in the preternatural Beyond by the magic of human memory. The more people remember them, talk about them, and name streets or towns or buildings after them, the more strength they have to re-enter the modern world. So that guy you saw in the French Quarter club that was a dead ringer (no pun intended) for Louis Armstrong? Could well be the real, historical undead version of Satchmo.

One of New Orleans’ most famous citizens was the early 19th-century pirate/privateer Jean Lafitte, for whom national parks, streets, schools, and entire towns have been named. In his human life, Lafitte was viewed by New Orleanians as more Robin Hood than pirate because he sold his goods plundered from Spanish ships at better rates than local merchants.

Lafitte, as he will be quick to tell you, is quite unforgettable. So if you are wandering through the French Quarter past the Hotel Monteleone and see a tall, handsome Frenchman striding out, looking vaguely piratical, make way for Le Capitaine, the leader of the historical undead and a major character in the Sentinels of New Orleans series.

Because as you’re armchair-traveling to my version of paranormal New Orleans, you’ll definitely want to meet the pirate, oui?

Excerpt from Elysian Fields

By midafternoon, I was out of ideas and full of nervous energy that finally sent me out of doors, catching up on yard work I’d neglected all season, raking the small, crunchy leaves from the live oaks into piles a kid would love to play in.

“Need help?”

I ignored the voice and counted to ten, hoping it would go away. Instead, Quince Randolph knelt next to a tall pyramid of leaves I’d erected and took the lid off the big green trash can he’d brought with him. He began scooping up armfuls and piling them in the can. “You should compost this down. It would make a good mulch for flowerbeds. Plus you need more color in your landscaping.”

“Whatever.” I didn’t know what mulch was, didn’t care enough to ask, and had such a brown thumb that flowers never survived my gardening efforts.

Rand wore a chocolate-brown sweater almost the same color as mine, with jeans in a similar wash. With our comparable shades of long blond hair, we resembled grown-up Bobbsey Twins, except he was prettier. Freddie and Flossie do New Orleans.

“Are you here for any particular reason?”

He squinted up at me against the soft afternoon sunlight. “I just want to get to know you better.”

Uh- huh. “Tell me what you are, and then we’ll know each other better. I’m betting elf or faery.” I was kind of betting elf— it might explain his interest in me although, thankfully, he’d never shown any inclination to plunder my brain.

He grinned. “Go to dinner with me and I might tell you.”

I noted the return of his peridot earrings. Big liar. Super-big cheater. “Where’s Eugenie? You know, your girlfriend?”

A flash of irritation spoiled his perfect features a half second before he answered. “Working. Can we—”

What ever he planned to ask, my answer would be no, but he didn’t get a chance because a clomping noise reached us from the direction of Prytania Street. Rand and I both were stricken speechless at the sight of Jean Lafitte sitting like royalty in the back of a gold and white French Quarter tourist carriage. It was being pulled by a light- gray mule wearing a hat festooned with

fake flowers and driven by a smiling guy who had no idea how many daggers his undead pirate passenger had hidden on him.

The ornate carriage rolled to a stop, and the mule flicked an ear at the passing traffic. Those animals pulled tourists around the French Quarter all day, and it would take more than an impatient Toyota driver to rattle one of them. The carriages were also ridiculously expensive if one commissioned a ride outside the Quarter.

Then again, Jean Lafitte was loaded. The driver probably had a reason to smile.

Jean exited the carriage with extraordinary grace for such a large man. He was tall, powerfully built, black-haired, cobalt-eyed, a shameless flirt, and talked with a raspy French accent that made me swoon even though he was technically dead. In other words, I had a bit of a problem with Jean Lafitte and my own common sense being present at the same time.

Jean said a few words to the carriage driver, then turned to prop his hands on his hips in a broad pirate-like stance, giving Rand a disapproving visual once-over. The mule backed up a

few awkward steps before pulling the carriage into my driveway.

God help me, I hoped Alex didn’t get home in time to see this. I’d never hear the end of it.

“Do you wish me to rid you of this intruder, Jolie?”

Elysian Fields
Sentinels of New Orleans Series
Book Three
Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books
Date of Publication: August 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0765333193

Number of pages: 352
Word Count: approx. 102,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Book Trailer:

Amazon Barnes and Noble Book Depository

Book Description:

The mer feud has been settled, but life in South Louisiana still has more twists and turns than the muddy Mississippi. New Orleanians are under attack from a copycat killer mimicking the crimes of a 1918 serial murderer known as the Axeman of New Orleans.

Thanks to a tip from the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, DJ Jaco knows the attacks aren't random--an unknown necromancer has resurrected the original Axeman of New Orleans, and his ultimate target is a certain blonde wizard.

Namely, DJ. Fighting off an undead serial killer as troubles pile up around her isn't easy. Jake Warin's loup-garou nature is spiraling downward, enigmatic neighbor Quince Randolph is acting weirder than ever, the Elders are insisting on lessons in elven magic from the world's most annoying wizard, and former partner Alex 
Warin just turned up on DJ's to-do list. Not to mention big maneuvers are afoot in the halls of preternatural power. 

Suddenly, moving to the Beyond as Jean Lafitte's pirate wench? It could be DJ's best option.

River Road

Sentinels of New Orleans 
Book Two
Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books

ISBN: 978-0765327802
ASIN: B00842H5VI

Number of pages: 336
Word Count: approx. 92,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Amazon Barnes & Noble

Book Depository Indiebound

Book Description:

Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

Royal Street
Sentinels of New Orleans
Book One

Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Tor Books
ISBN: 978-0765327796
ASIN: B006OM459U

Number of pages: 337
Word Count: approx. 94,000

Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Amazon Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Book Description:

As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco's job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ's boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans' fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerald St. Simon has gone missing, the wizards' Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ's new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and the killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter roux.

About the Author

On Aug. 28, 2005, Suzanne Johnson loaded two dogs, a cat, a friend, and her mom into a car and fled New Orleans in the hours before Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

Four years later, she began weaving her experiences and love for her city into the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series, beginning with Royal Street (2012), continuing with River Road (2012), and now with Elysian Fields (August 2013).

She grew up in rural Alabama, halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace, and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years—which means she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.

As Susannah Sandlin, she writes the best-selling Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series and the recent standalone, Storm Force.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Luke Ahearn

Excerpt and Guest Post by Luke Ahearn

It’s been my observation that one of novice writers’ biggest mistakes is trying too hard. I don’t mean working too hard, I mean trying too hard. When trying too hard, a writer may overwrite (use too many words), use large words plucked from a thesaurus rather than simply selecting the most effective word, use excessive description, write a lengthy backstory for the character, and more. In an attempt to create a memorable character, a writer will sometimes create an over-the-top character that hits you in the face right off the bat. Instead, a character needs to be slowly unveiled. Only after responding to a trying circumstance will a character’s character be revealed. Show us; don’t tell us.


Page 1 - Jim thought Sam was a coward.

Or after the gorilla swings into the window.

Page 26 - When Jim turned to grab a chair, ready to face this new threat, Sam was gone. He heard footsteps rapidly receding down the hall. He cursed Sam; cursed himself for thinking he would behave in any other way.

When it comes to crafting a memorable character, there are two things I think are vital: be true to the character and throw him in a world of shit. There are other details that will evolve or naturally go with any given character to further cement his memorability, but those stem from the motives and goals of the writer mentioned below.

For now, let’s think about one of the most memorable characters in entertainment history, Michael Corleone. He returned from WWII with the intent of being the first of his family to go straight. He went to visit his father in the hospital and ended up getting punched in the face by a corrupt policeman, Captain McCluskey. The blow breaks his jaw. Before this incident, he was planning to essentially become a boring person. But this event changes him; he sees that there are good and bad guys on both sides. He sees how close his father came to dying first under the watch of Fredo and Sonny, his big brothers, and realizes he needs to step up for the good of his family (and was pissed he got bitch-slapped by a big Irish cop). An internal change takes place in him, a change no one notices at first. He voices a bold plan, and his desire to be the one to execute it personally, to kill McCluskey (and another dude we don’t need to worry about now). Everyone laughs at first, but then—yada, yada, yada, everyone dies and he’s the Don. So even the Michael Corleone, a very memorable character, is memorable because of the events of the story and his (the writer’s) adherence to his character. He doesn’t have big shoes, a bagpipe, and a silly quirk that draws attention wherever he goes. We aren’t told upfront that “this kid is Don material!” In fact, we are shown the opposite. His transformation to Don is all the more powerful for it.

When I create a character, I am starting with a stranger. I don’t know much more than the reader does when I first meet them. I only have a vague notion of what they are going to say and do, their personality, and maybe some strengths and weaknesses. What I do have is a clear purpose, or function, for that character. And I am very clear on my goals for the book and as a writer. More on that later.

Memorable characters often have a few things in common: a big-ass event occurs in the story, they often take a new name, nickname, or title, and their mojo changes, among other things. Michael killed a police captain (big-ass event), became the Don (new title), and his whole mojo changed. He was now the Don, not a fresh-faced soldier back from war with his god-awful girlfriend (he should have gotten himself a nice Italian girl, in my opinion).

The big ass event that happens in the fiction is usually called the first conflict. Fiction is based on increasingconflict, peaking at a crisis, then resolving in the climax. Our characters are affected by this conflict, they are challenged by all the conflicts until their big test, the crisis. The characters are changed after the climax and this is usually summed up in the denouement (or resolution). Contrasted with the introduction, the characters are changed, for better or worse, if they are still alive.

So the heroes in Euphoria Z were dealing with the apocalypse the best they knew how when all of a sudden, the first conflict happens. The shit escalates until the big crisis occurs, then the climax is played out. Banjo was a bad person before the story, but an initial conflict pushes him into an obsessed villain. He wasn’t just bad news anymore, he was a predator bent on an extreme, over-the-top response to the event.

I have gotten many reactions to Banjo, the villain in Euphoria Z. He is very memorable because everyone who reads the book really hates him. That was no accident. The highest compliment I can get is when a seemingly proper lady screws her face up in anger and says, “I just wanted to kill that bastard!” That means I created a memorable character.

When I started the book, he was just one of the gang; a minor character that really had no strong role in my mind. You might expect the leader of a group of bad guys to be the big badass, and that was my intention at first, but Banjo emerged as a real asshole from the moment I started writing him. I was true to his character and he almost wrote himself. There is a defining event in the book that creates the change of focus in him, brings him to the forefront as his obsession causes him to take a tighter control of the gang (and not as caretaker as was previous to this event, but to pursue his obsession). And his mojo changed. He was a bad dude that wanted to party the apocalypse away, but after his defining event, he then became an evil bad dude bent on revenge and getting payback ten times over. He was so strong a character as I wrote him, I decided to go back and give him scenes originally intended for the actual leader from the beginning. Their relationship is complex and explained in the novel, but he was no threat to the leader and didn’t take the title of leader, but he functioned as the leader. He had some unique things about him; he wore an old WWII helmet, he started talking to himself more and more, and he demonstrated some level of intelligence. But Banjo emerged as a strong character and I let him. He was all the stronger in my mind because he wasn’t the titled leader of the gang, but he was the one everyone looked to and feared.

To make fiction tense and entreating, you have to throw a lot of crap on your heroes, and Banjo was one big load of crap I kept throwing on them. So not only are the good guys struggling, the bad guy is having a good time dancing on their fingers as they cling to the edge of the cliff. So I just kept throwing this guy around and giving him opportunities for him to just be himself. What’s memorable are his extreme reactions to extreme events. Where most of us would do a decent thing, and a few might be less than honorable and even cowardly, Banjo would just naturally do something that was just over-the-top dick. On the playground, there’s the kid that throws the ball back to you, the kid that ignores you, the kid that might take the ball to play with it, and then there’s Banjo. If he liked you, he would carry the ball back over to you (he can be charming on rare occasion). If he didn’t really know you, he might kick it back, keep it, or ignore you, depending on his mood. But if he didn’t like you or your kind, he would pop the ball and throw it on a roof, kick your ass for crying, then steal your lunch money—and he’d enjoy the shit out of it the entire time. And if you wronged him? Forget it.

I don’t have a set of rules for creating memorable characters. Like almost every aspect of writing, character creation is a paradox. Writers need to learn and exercise a lot of rules and structures yet still write unfettered and from the heart.

So writing has a lot of rules, but no directions. You have to create your own directions. It starts with a clear motivation for writing. Your motivation helps you to define your goals, and your goals help you to define the decisions you make as you write. You develop your own directions for writing, but use the rules to connect and smooth over all the parts of the story. Grammar, punctuation, and spelling are all very important, but while you’re writing, they’re the last thing you need to worry about. Those things are the smoothing pass over a completed story.

My motivation is to entertain, to give the reader the gift of escaping into another world. My goals when writing depend on the piece I’m am writing. All decisions I make when I write stem from that goal. I like to leave the reader hanging in suspense, scare them, threaten them, make them laugh, etc. I will do whatever it takes—hold a gun to a puppy’s head, throw the hero into impossible circumstances, and just make the world increasingly crappy for the good guy every step of the way. I push him farther from his goals, and bring him to the brink of annihilation until … oh crap, I’m Banjo! Anyway, the last and biggest turd burger you shove down the hero’s throat is the absolute last. He’s sick of it and as his author, you know it’s time to write him some hard-earned victory. All of the tables turn, and the bad guy gets his comeuppance.

The motives and goals of the writer are usually overlooked, especially in fiction, and they are most important in my mind. If you aren’t clear on your motives and goals as a writer before you start writing, you will find yourself floundering, making poor choices, and most importantly, you will become more confused and frustrated every time you get feedback. Feedback will only drag you off-course. Feedback needs to help you obtain your goals, not change them. My goal is to entertain, so I tend to ignore any criticism about my work lacking literary value from people who are not my audience. I look for feedback from my audience that indicates they were confused, bored, rolling their eyes in disbelief, or pulled out of the story in any way. I also look for those comments that are very positive because they make me feel great and I like to know what I did right as well as what I did wrong.

As a result, when I create a character, I don’t fill out profiles and try to detail the character upfront by answering background questions, likes/dislikes, and all that. But I am not flying blind, as I have a strong feeling for the character going in. A character is there to fill a function: good guy, bad guy, comic relief, douchebag, etc. So at first the characters are strangers to me, but I know what they are up to. I can see what the readers see and will make some judgments like the reader will. Judgments are often wrong, but that’s one of those tools you use to make a memorable character later on. I know what era they’re in, a bit about how they interact with their counterparts, and I can let them be themselves and react when I drop them into situations.

My characters at first are usually just vague notions in my head. I know what effect I want them to have on the reader. I go into the story with a name or a face (whether it’s an actor or person I know or more rarely, a fully-formed face I haven’t seen anywhere before). Sometimes these aspects change, and that’s okay as long as you are mindful of how it affects the story and whether it’s logical and consistent. You may have to do some rewriting if you decide to change a name or physical aspect of a character after the story has started rolling forward.

So my character starts living in the story and, for the most part, I just “know” the character at heart. All decisions stem from that core, which is more of a feeling than a definition or profile. If someone is a macho asshole, big on intimidation and fear, that’s going to affect what he wears, how he talks, and every aspect of his character. My characters often have nicknames, especially the bad ones, because babies are usually named Carl or Jeff, not Stank Weed or Ass Kicker. I’ve watched a lot of biker documentaries, read fiction and nonfiction alike, and I have a notion of how a biker might react or respond in any given situation. I know that Banjo would not have self-deprecating humor. He wouldn’t allow himself to be seen acting in any way other than the biggest badass in the room—the only badass in the room. Fuck respect and love; he wants you to fear him. Since he’s the bad guy inEuphoria Z, he’s pretty much dancing on fingers the entire time.


The present, Monterey, California

“Fuck!” The wiry, gray-haired old man felt his eyes go wide with surprise, but he quickly got his shit together. Jasper scowled; now he was very pissed off. He might stoop and shuffle when he walked, but he didn’t take any shit.

Some big fat bastard was bear-hugging him from behind. He could see white mountains of wet flab before his eyes, and he smelled vomit. He felt a massive wet belly and man tits pressing against his back. Large folds of cold wet flesh engulfed him, and he shuddered at the sensation.

He hated hugs, especially from men, and hugs from big fat sweaty bastards were absolutely unacceptable. He carried his best spiked hammer, an old-school Craftsman from back in the day, before the gooks were making them. He was just itching to use it. The fat bastard was yelling something in his ear.

“I love you! I love you, man!”

“Ahhh, geez!” Jasper twisted out of the flabby cocoon and took a few steps back. What he saw disgusted him. It was a giant fat kid, a head taller than himself, who looked like a giant baby, all hairless and soft. The kid was smiling like an idiot, and that made Jasper even more pissed off. Food smeared the kid’s face and ran down his chins in greasy streams between his man tits and over his belly. All Jasper could think was that all that shit was all over his back. Now he would have to burn his shirt and take a long, hot shower.

The kid wore nothing but baggy white underwear soaked in sweat. Jasper shuddered at the clammy coldness on his back. His flannel shirt clung to him and felt like a cold, wet bathing suit.

“I love you, man!” The big fat kid smiled as he came at him for another hug.

“Ahhhh! Fuck you!” Despite his advanced age, Jasper moved with an efficiency and force that spoke of his many years as a carpenter. He brought the spiked hammer down on the kid’s skull, and it collapsed inward with little resistance. He liked the sensation of cracking a head but hated wasting the time to do it.

The kid dropped to the concrete like a wet sack. He was still smiling, which made cracking his skull less enjoyable. Jasper wished he could bash every asshole around with his trusty hammer. He looked around to make sure another shithead wasn’t looking for a hug.

A woman came at him, hooting so loud he could hear it over the crowd, waving her tits at him. He took her out too, with an easy smack between the eyes. He had enough of this shit. He cracked a few more skulls for fun, but he got bored. It was always the same: an easy tap to the skull and the moron dropped, still smiling.

The streets were crammed with people, and they were all acting crazy. Jasper just wanted to get home. It seemed everyone was congregating downtown, streaming in from the surrounding neighborhoods. People were walking in large groups, arm in arm, naked and clothed, dancing, running, and hugging. It all made Jasper sick, just god-awful sick.

He tried to go all the way downtown and almost got caught up in the crowd. People were pushing and jamming each other into doors until they cracked open. He heard the crash of large plate-glass windows, but no one reacted. In fact, he saw people just getting pushed through the windows in a wave. He could tell that people were getting seriously injured and killed, and he just wanted to get the hell out of there.

He left at the right time. The press of the massive crowd smashed and suffocated, ground and trampled, and killed many—and the party continued to grow. No one screamed in panic or pain. No one yelled for help or dialed 911. And no one stopped to offer assistance, an apology, or true human interaction of any kind. Everyone was bent on doing exactly what they wanted to do, and what anyone else wanted didn’t matter to them in the slightest.

In any place where people gathered for a good time, the crowds were thick. The mall was packed, but the hospital was empty. The wharf was so full that hundreds fell into the icy waters of the bay. The office parks and businesses were dark and silent. Some groups formed parties on random streets for one reason or another.

A large majority of the city was empty, devoid of people. Most left their homes and walked away, leaving doors unlocked and often wide open. They would join a group and wander away.

There were still a few souls hiding indoors who were anything but euphoric. They watched with fear and horror the goings-on outside their windows. Jasper had been one of these, but he needed his goddamned pills and had to drive through all this crazy shit to get them. Of course, when he got to the damn pharmacy it was closed. He had tried to call ahead, but no one answered the phone. He was pissed. He wanted nothing to do with this crazy shit. He didn’t want to see any of it and certainly didn’t want to walk through it. He saw quite a few people doing things he had only seen in his buddies’ dirty magazines. But there was one thing every single person was doing: smiling like a retard with a lollipop—every single one.

At first, he thought all the outlandish behavior was confined to idiots, kids, and queers. It had to be some new drug to get them this nuts, he thought. But too many people were acting bonkers, too many people who just didn’t fit the behavior.

He walked as quickly as he was able away from the crowd and back to his car. He’d seen some shit in his day, but in the last few the world had descended into pandemonium. There were reports that almost everyone around the world was walking away from their jobs, no matter how critical. Everything was grinding to a halt. Transportation, communication—private or military, trivial or critical—everything was just going belly up. Jasper had known this day was coming ever since the blacks were allowed to vote.

And the crooks in Washington didn’t know anything. They said it was an unknown virus and creatively named it Euphoria-Z. Z because they didn’t know what it was, only what it did. And their advice? Stay indoors and away from crowds, bunch of geniuses.

Jasper had never expected he would need to kill people, not since the war, but in the last few days he had been forced to. The streets were crazy, and he wouldn’t even be outside if he hadn’t needed his pills. He felt as if he were the only sane person for miles. He looked at his feet and wondered, only briefly, if something were wrong with him? No, couldn’t be, he thought. None of this was right. The world had gone crazy.

Book 1
Luke Ahearn

Genre: Thriller/Zombie Apocalypse
Publisher: Luke Ahearn

Date of Publication: May 19, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-1497497382
ISBN-10: 1497497388

Number of pages: 409
Word Count: 118,099

Cover Artist: Steven J Catizone

Book Description:

Civilization shuts down as throngs of speechless hedonists fill the streets in deadly revelry. They feel only pleasure and never pain, even as they are injured, maimed, and mutilated. Few people remain in the world unaffected, left to witness the madness unaware that things are about to get unbelievably worse.

Cooper is among the few survivors of a conspiracy to depopulate the world. One week ago, college was his biggest concern. Now he is on a dangerous journey to find his sister as an ever-present threat of nightmarish proportions engulfs the world, throwing him in the path of some of the most malicious people that ever walked the earth.

About the Author:

Luke Ahearn has over 20 years of professional game development experience and has authored numerous nonfiction books on the topic. He ran his own computer game company for ten years and currently owns MasterWerxStudios, an animatronic prop shop in Monterey, CA.




Thursday, May 15, 2014

Michael J. Frey

Guest Post and Excerpt by Michael J.Frey

Guest Post


When creating our cover for State Of Infection, we went through several versions and nearly fifty edits before we got it right. A book cover is your book’s first impression, so make it good. There’s a lot to consider when creating an effective cover.

First things first: keep it simple. When I first made suggestions for the cover of my novel, I wanted to tell the whole story. I had an image of the Statue Of Liberty with both main characters in front of her, as well as the antagonist in the background and a few zombies for good measure. When I looked over the initial sketches I realized it was too much. Too messy and confusing. Look at the covers of some very successful books such as The Panther (by Nelson DeMille) or Mockingjay (by Suzanne Collins). They are bold, yet simple. They draw you in without pulling your eyes in five different directions. In the case of my book cover, we got rid of the original idea and went in different, simpler direction.

Second: appeal to as large an audience as possible. Sometimes I’m drawn to a book cover with a beautiful (often half naked) woman. The “comic book” cover does work with a select group of readers but I will offer you should think bigger. The best covers catch the attention of your target readers, but also grab eyeballs which might not usually check out a book like yours. In the case of a half-naked woman holding a crossbow (or shotgun, etc.) you will get the attention of male readers who tend to read science fiction books, but you will loose others. Imagine a reader sitting on a subway train reading a book. Will she/he be embarrassed by the cover of the book she/he is reading? If so, she/he may avoid the book altogether even if it is something she/he wanted to check out.

In the end, we came up with something simple, which suggests at ideas in the story but doesn’t necessarily tell the story. The cover for State Of Infection is slightly abstract but I think works very well. It was created by Tommy Dalston, an artist who lives in the UK. Thanks Tommy for the great work.

I hope you like the cover and the story of my novel, State Of Infection.



It’s been nearly a year since the outbreak. Most people call it the ZA infection, though it’s not really an infection. The proper medical term is Montoya’s encephalopathy (named after Claude Montoya, the French researcher who spearheaded the early studies).

I was in my office seeing patients when it began. Back then I had a medical practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, about a block away from my one bedroom apartment. I could get from my office to my home before you could say Jack Robinson. It was convenient as heck (and in the end, probably saved my life).

In those days my biggest concern was keeping the practice growing. Medicine is, among many things, a business, and like most businesses, mine had overhead. Lots of overhead. In my case overhead meant two receptionists and two nurses. I also had the malpractice insurance to cover, which seemed to go up almost every year. Next came the office supplies (both secretarial and medical). Then throw in the computers, maintenance, and a small reserve for holiday parties. Private practice in New York City was a costly beast to say the least.

Fortunately, I did pretty well and was able to celebrate my black Friday earlier and earlier each year. I wish I could attribute my good fortune to my skills as a doctor, but as Avalon might say, that dog won’t hunt. There were plenty of good docs in New York City before the ZA infection, so I had to find a way to stand out. The real secret to my success was keeping the waiting down to a bare minimum. I prided myself on it. Everyone hates waiting for the doctor, I get that, I hate it too. And no group of people does hurried and rushed like Manhattanites. So if Mrs. Kessler had an appointment at noon, she was seen by noon, or sooner. That, and a pair of the friendliest secretaries known to mankind, is what kept my people coming back.

Of course, it didn’t always work out that way. All it took was one complicated condition to throw off the schedule. For example, during what I thought was a routine physical exam, I felt an enlarged liver in a fifteen-year-old boy. That’s how a visit booked for twenty minutes became forty-five minutes. After explaining the findings to a terrified patient and his mother, I then had to order liver function tests, screening tests for hepatitis and a CT scan of the abdomen. It takes time, but it has to get done. You do what you can while keeping the bottom line in mind. And, if Mrs. Kessler wants to tell you about her son’s academic success at Brandeis University, or Mr. Barkman wants to show you pics of his new Shetland Sheepdog? Well, you smile and look at the pics, or at least that’s what I did. Good word of mouth followed, and my practice grew; satisfying both my needs as a physician, and as a businessman.

I wish I could say my office was filled with marble and gold leaf, and that I had one of those big fancy wooden desks. It wasn’t like that. But it wasn’t one of those tired, worn out old offices with dirty carpets and framed posters of Matisse and Van Gogh everywhere you turned. It was pretty standard I guess.

On my desk, I had two photographs. One was a recent pic of Kimberly and me in the North Fork of Long Island (the wine country). The other was of my sister and my parents, which was taken at a wedding, or bar mitzvah, or something; everyone dressed up and smiling in the type of picture that seemed dated the second it went into the frame; the type of picture destined for a desktop. Overall, I’d say it was a nice setup. Then the ZA infection came and everything changed. And if a little zombie apocalypse wasn’t bad enough, the Southern Federation showed up next to conduct what they called the Second Civil War. Talk about bad karma.

Manhattan is now what one might call a city-state, a tiny little country onto itself. And who gets to be king of New York? A man named Castor Dean does. Castor Dean is the class president...of a pretty big class. Not that he was elected by his classmates (or anyone else for that matter). His authority was given to him by what remained of the military after the government collapsed. His official political title is the Gallum Major; which means king or ruler. Personally, I would have chosen “El Hefe” if I ruled New York, but they never offered me the position. This is not to say that Castor Dean is a bad leader, it’s just that the vox populi never meant much to him. Most survivors welcomed Castor and his absolute rule. After all, because of him, the city still has electricity and clean water. That fact alone makes Castor worth his weight in gold.

Castor changed things up when he came into power. For starters, he renamed the city. Manhattan, he felt, had been erased by the ZA infection. The survivors of the zombie apocalypse needed a fresh start, a new beginning. So Manhattan was reborn as Gallum City, and Roosevelt Island (a small island adjacent to Manhattan) became its capital. Because of Roosevelt's small size, Castor’s army was able to clear out the zaps in a matter of days. This zombie-free sanctuary (just a few minutes boat ride from Manhattan) was the ideal location for the new ruling class. Roosevelt Island was divided into three sections. The southern section became a military town named New Sparta (where most the soldiers were barracked). The middle of the island was for government leaders and their families. The northern section was given to the surviving civilian population, the natives, who lived on Roosevelt before the infection. They were allowed to stay, provided they agreed to relocation.

State Of Infection
Michael J. Frey

Genre: Science Fiction/ Horror

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Date of Publication: March 6, 2014

ISBN: 9781612963211

Number of pages:266
Word Count: 84K

Cover Artist: Tommy Dalston

Book Description:

Just months before the Battle of Central Park and the onset of the Second Civil War, President Obama declares martial law in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as Montoya’s encephalopathy spreads.

Despite the military’s best efforts, the government falls and Manhattan is reborn as a city-state under a military dictatorship. Survivors Mike Calaf, and Avalon Calendar struggle to survive, caught between the zombies and the new ruler of New York.

But long before the zombie infection, during the First Civil War, Doctor William Jackson (of the Confederate States of America) is trying to unravel the mystery behind this strange new sickness. He knows that if Complex P fails to work, there could be devastating consequences which might influence the future of mankind.

Book Trailer:

Purchase it at Amazon and BN

About the Author:

Michael Frey is a physician and assistant professor in New York City. He lives in Westchester, New York with his wife Jessica, two children and two dogs.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pembroke Sinclair

Spotlight on Zombies

Excerpt and Giveaway by Pembroke Sinclair

Finding Eden
Pembroke Sinclair

Genre: Zombie horror

Publisher: eTreasures Publishing

Date of Publication: March 2013

ISBN: ISBN-10: 1937809285
ISBN-13: 978-1937809287

Number of pages: 150
Cover Artist: Jared Rackler

Book Description:

Drunk womanizer Duke, spends his life selfishly taking care of himself and screw the rest of the world. After one particular black-out alcoholic binge, he wakes to find the world changed the dead are rising from their graves.

Lonely, guilt-ridden Hank is someone who minds his own business, and sympathetic but strong-willed Lana is on the receiving end of harassment by other students. Forced together for survival, the three misfits must confront their world gone strange. God said the people of Earth would be punished for their sins, and so the end has come. Duke, Hank, and Lana must walk their own paths to salvation, but they also must depend on each other.

Will their salvation lie in Finding Eden?

Amazon Barnes and Noble

eTreasures print eTreasures ebook



Duke’s tires squealed as he slammed on the brakes, stopping inches from the garage door. He shut off the engine. The keys fell from his hands and clinked onto the floor.


He leaned forward, smacking his head on the steering wheel. Stars danced in front of his eyes, and he swore under his breath. Holding his forehead, he opened the car door and stepped out. He lost his balance and almost fell. Grabbing the top of the door, he chuckled.

“Oooo!” he exclaimed. “Might have had too much to drink.” He laughed again.

With shaky steps, he headed for his house. After two steps, he lurched to the right, almost falling into his hedges. He caught himself on the side of the garage. Footsteps sounded behind him. He turned, a little too fast. His vision blurred. Someone stood at the back of his car. The outline was distinctly female. Did he bring someone home with him? He usually remembered when he picked someone up. He usually focused on what he wanted to do with her.

He blinked a few times, clearing his vision. The woman came into view. Duke smiled.

“Heeey, Chanel.” He attempted to take a step forward, but swayed back and forth, almost falling on his face. He thought better of approaching her. “What are you doing out this time of night?”

Chanel didn’t answer.

Duke’s stomach clenched, the contents threatened to splash out. He swallowed the chunks back down. He needed some water, or another drink before passing out, but he didn’t want to pass up a chance of female companionship. Hopefully, she was just playing hard to get.

“You wanna come in and have a drink?”

In response, she gurgled. A low, rumbling sound that originated deep in her throat.

At first, Duke though maybe she burped, and was taken aback. Chanel was one of those women who didn’t leave the house without every hair in place. Was she even capable of producing gas?

His stomach lurched again. He barely closed his mouth before the vomit escaped. He covered his mouth with his hand and choked down the bile. He needed to get inside.

“Well, I’m gonna head inside. That offer still stands if you want a drink.”

He stumbled toward the stairs. His toe caught on the edge, but he caught himself before falling down. His face reddened, and he glanced over his shoulder. Chanel still stood at the back of the vehicle, watching his every move. Odd, he thought. What is she doing? But he didn’t have long to worry about it. His top priority was getting something to drink.

Duke kept a bottle of orange Gatorade in his fridge for such occasions. Bathed in the white glow of the fridge light, he downed the entire bottle, liquid running down his chin. He gasped in air when he finished, then let out a long, rumbling burp. Something shuffled in the living room. He glanced into the darkness. A shadow moved. He smiled to himself. He knew she couldn’t resist his charms for long.

Pushing the fridge door closed, he stepped into the other room. He contemplated turning on a light, but thought better of it. The hunt would be more fun in the dark. He took another step, and the floor rolled under him. He couldn’t regain his balance. His knee hit first. A dull ache throbbed up his thigh. He was going to feel that in the morning. Then his shoulder thumped onto the floor, followed by his head. He yowled.

His expectation was that Chanel would rush to his side, maybe turn on a light, to find out if he was all right. Instead, she stood there. What was wrong with her? Didn’t she care? Duke rolled onto his hands and knees and crawled to his TV. He punched the button. The flickering light lit the room. He turned to Chanel.

His breath caught. Instinctively, he crab-walked away from her. Her arms hung limply at her side, her skin pale. She stared at nothing, her eyes glazed white with dark circles underneath. Her normally flawless hair stuck out in various directions. Mud streaked her Capri pants. Her ripped white shirt exposed a lacy bra. He cleared his throat and struggled to his feet.

“Chanel? Is everything all right?”

She turned to face him, but stared right through him. That same throaty gurgle escaped her throat. It almost sounded like a growl. Duke’s stomach knotted.

“You know, um, I’m pretty tired. Maybe, ah, we could reschedule that drink for another time.”

She stepped toward him. He stepped to his right.

“It was awfully great seeing you, though.” He glanced at the front door. How was he going to herd her toward it?

She took another step, her mouth falling open. A hiss escaped her lips, and determination shrouded her face. The blood in Duke’s veins went cold. He froze. She lunged forward. She misjudged the distance between them, falling to the ground. Her nails caught his neck, and she dragged them down his flesh. He bolted to the right. Taking the steps two at a time, he ran upstairs. He slammed his bedroom door shut. What was wrong with his neighbor? Was she on some type of drug? The footsteps echoed up the stairs. Slow, methodical steps that thudded through the carpet.

He locked the door and glanced around the room. His gaze fell on the gun safe. How would he explain to the cops the amount of alcohol in his system and his dead neighbor? Maybe just pointing it at her would scare her off. But what if it didn’t? What if she still came after him? He punched in the combination and took out the 300 Winchester and Smith and Wesson Model 629 revolver. Chanel pounded on his bedroom door. Crap! She was relentless! Why couldn’t she be that determined to get in his room before getting high? He glanced at the ceiling. It was his only chance. Pulling down the stairs, he scurried into the attic.

Darkness surrounded him. He stared at the floor for a long time, waiting for the door to open. His head grew cloudy, his eyes heavy. Eventually, he drifted into an alcohol induced sleep, Chanel still pounding on his bedroom door.

Death to the Undead
Book 2
Pembroke Sinclair

Genre: YA horror
Publisher: eTreasures Publishing

ISBN-10: 1937809226 
ISBN-13: 978-1937809225

Number of pages: 286

Cover Artist: Jerrod Brown

Book Description: 

The battle that began in Life After the Undead continues.

Zombies changed her life completely...

Tough teenager Krista escaped to the safety of Florida after her parents were killed by the zombie horde. She united with General Liet, a distant cousin, and moved with him to North Platte to help build a wall to keep the zombies in the West. Krista fell in love with Quinn, a survivor and fighter from the zombie-infested wildlands of the West, and together they freed the garrison at North Platte from the power-hungry Liet.

But zombies aren’t the only enemy they have to face...

Now, North Platte is free, but Liet was not the only one using the zombie apocalypse to control their people. Florida is ruled by five ruthless Families, who use intimidation and the threat of the zombie horde to coerce their populace. Krista and Quinn hatch a desperate plan to run guns into the state and help the people revolt. Krista and Quinn, labeled as rebels run for their lives when the Families attack North Platte. The Families want them captured, the zombies want to eat them, and other survivors want them dead. Caught in between powerful forces, they must survive long enough to devise a new plan and put it into action, all while trying to solidify their new relationship and trying not to self-destruct in the meantime.

Life After the Undead
Book One
Pembroke Sinclair

Genre: YA Horror

Publisher: eTreasures Publishing

ISBN: ISBN-10: 1937809013
ISBN-13: 978-1937809010

Number of pages: 356

Cover Artist: Jerrod Brown

Book Trailer:

Amazon Etreasures Barnes and Noble

Book Description:

The world has come to an end. It doesn’t go out with a bang, or even a whimper. It goes out in an orgy of blood and the dead rising from their graves to feast on living flesh. As democracy crumples and the world melts into anarchy, five families in the U.S. rise to protect the survivors.

The undead hate a humid environment, so they are migrating westward to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors are constructing a wall in North Platte to keep the zombie threat to the west, while tyranny rules among the humans to the east.

Capable but na├»ve Krista is 15 when the first attacks occur, and she loses her family and barely escapes with her life. She makes her way to the wall and begins a new life. But, as the undead threat grows and dictators brainwash those she cares about, Krista must fight not only to survive but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately those she loves.

About the Author:

Pembroke Sinclair is a literary jack of all trades, playing her hand at multiple genres. She has written an eclectic mix of fiction ranging from horror to sci-fi and even some westerns. Born in Rock Springs, Wyoming--the home of 56 nationalities--it is no wonder Pembroke ended up so creatively diverse. Her fascination with the notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and how the lines blur have inspired her writing.

Pembroke lives in Laramie, Wyoming, with her husband, two spirited boys, a black lab named Ryder, and a rescue kitty named Alia, who happens to be the sweetest, most adorable kitty in the world! She cannot say no to dessert, orange soda, or cinnamon. She loves rats and tatts and rock and roll and wants to be an alien queen when she grows up.

You can learn more about Pembroke Sinclair by visiting her at: