Monday, July 17, 2017

Aria Knight Chronicles: a new paranormal series

I'm always pleased to help fellow authors promote their work. I'm very excited about a new paranormal series written by not one, but TWO bestselling authors, Samantha LaFantasie and Alesha Escobar. SIN EATER, Book 1 of the Aria Knight Chronicles, releases today! Links to purchase below.



Synopsis

Aria Knight has an unusual set of skills: she will hold back the hounds of Hell so you can fly toward the Pearly Gates, and she will wipe your slate clean so that you don't become karma's bitch...for a price.

A Sin Eater has to make a living in today's world somehow.

But when she's called in the dead of night to perform her rite for a recluse billionaire, she stumbles upon a murder scene, and the evidence points to her.

In an attempt to clear her name and uncover the true culprit, Aria is forced to team up with a private investigator who's possessed by three spirits, and a handsome wizard who would rather see all Sin Eaters like Aria go extinct.

Aria knows her job is never easy, but now it’s become downright deadly.

SIN EATER is the first book of the Aria Knight Chronicles by USA Today bestselling author Samantha LaFantasie and Alesha Escobar, author of the bestselling Gray Tower Trilogy.


About the Authors


I’m a caffeine addict and chocoholic who enjoys reading and writing engaging stories, lovable (and not-so lovable) characters, and expressing my creativity daily. I write fantasy with intriguing characters, action-packed scenes, and always throw in a good dash of humor and romance.

Science Fiction and Fantasy are my favorite genres, but I also adore the classics (Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, etc.) and I have a soft spot in my heart for Victorian poetry. You can geek out with me all-day every day over these.

Some of my favorite contemporary fantasy authors are George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan (rest in peace), J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher (Dresden Files made me love Urban Fantasy), and Ilona Andrews among others. I enjoy movies and shows like Sleepy Hollow, Supernatural, Arrow, The Flash, The Avengers…there are too many to name!

I want to read more comics and graphic novels, please shoot a recommendation or two my way (I LOVE the Hellblazer comics, by the way).

Please don’t be a stranger–I want you to kick up your feet, sip your coffee (or tea) and join in on my weekly rants, discussions, and updates.


A Kansas native, Samantha LaFantasie spends her free time with her three kids and arguing with her characters. Writing has always been a passion of hers, forgoing all other desires to devote to this one obsession. She’s primarily a fantasy writer but often feels pulled to genres such as sci-fi, romance, and others.

Samantha became a bestselling author with the Pandora Boxed Set (which includes Made to Forget: Nepherium Novella series--Part One) on both Amazon and USA Today.


Samantha loves to take time to enjoy other activities such as photography and playing her favorite game of all time, Guild Wars 2.


Purchase SIN EATER



Like this post? Check out other guest authors here

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Christmas in July

Hey, ya'll. I wanted to share with you that Smashwords is hosting a site-wide sale for the month of July. You can snag copies of my books for little or nothing using the coupon code SSW50. Here's the price list with links:

My solo works:
The Ice Dragon - $1.50
The Winter Prince - $1.50
Under Julia - $3.74
West Side Girl & Other Poems - FREE

The Order of the Four Sons:
The Order of the Four Sons - FREE
Carcosa - $2.00
Where Flap the Tatters of the King - $2.00
The Sacred Heart - $2.00

Also, as I mentioned in a previous entry, I did an author signing/book sale at the local library recently and had a few copies left over. As always, my best seller is The Ice Dragon, so I thought I'd do a giveaway. It will start tomorrow, July 6, and run through July 13. Some lucky winner will get an autographed copy.

The Ice Dragon is the tale of a little boy named Kenneth who hates Christmas. Then, one Christmas Eve, he meets a dragon, and everything changes. This book is for ages 8+.

Read an excerpt here.


Enter below.

Good luck, and Merry Christmas in July!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 29, 2017

June News

Two of my poems, "The Heart Goes Last" and "The Art of the Backyard Haircut" have been published in the July 2017 issue of The American Journal of Poetry. It's an incredible honor, as the journal, affectionately known as Margie, has published some very heavy hitters, including Sherman Alexie, a favorite of mine. Is there anything better than being in a magazine that has published one of your personal and literary idols? I don't think so.

This issue also has luminaries like Lola Haskins and William Trowbridge. Hope you get a chance to check out their work.

I'm planning to do a book giveaway next month (Christmas in July!) so please check back. 

Thanks, as always, for your support and your readership! 

If you need me, you know what I'll be doing-- just keep scribblin', scribblin', scribblin'... 



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May News

It's been a busy month! I had two poems appear in magazines. The first, "Little Birds," appeared in Panoply's Spring 2017 edition. Its theme was "Daylight." The editor, Jeff Santosuosso, said it possessed "such beautiful sadness."




The second, "In Event of Moon Disaster," appeared in The Santa Clara Review's Winter 2017 edition. I'm really proud of this one, guys. The Santa Clara Review is the oldest lit mag west of the Mississippi, founded in 1867, and it's a Jesuit university to boot! That just warms the cockles of my Rockhurst heart.

The editor, Shelly Valdez, said, "Among [this] poem's many merits, I was especially drawn to its charming voice, its unique subject matter, and its wonderful imagery. So many of your lines left me breathless." I hope it leaves you breathless too. 

Additionally, my new town hosted an author event at the Robert L. F. Sikes Public Library. It's always great to get some love from the local community. As always, The Ice Dragon was my bestseller. My books will be on the shelf at the library soon, so if you're an Okaloosa County resident, you can check them out!

I had some leftover copies, so I feel a giveaway coming on. Stay tuned on that.




More importantly, I got to hang out with pretty cool writers like Angela Yuriko Smith, Jocelyn Foster Donahoo, and Nolan L. DoleI look forward to reading their work. 


Thanks, as always for your support. After a brief hiatus, I'm throwing myself back into the O4S-verse. I don't have an ETA on Book V yet, but I'm hoping to have a draft before the year is out.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life review


Synopsis:
What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery? 

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.  

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero's redemption!


Review:
Anytime I read a short story collection, if I find even one good, entertaining or thought-provoking story, I consider that collection a success. I’m happy to say Hero Lost: Mysteries of Life and Death is well ahead of the curve. The Insecure Writer’s Support Group has no reason whatsoever to feel insecure about their story-telling chops. In Hero Lost, they serve up an even dozen of stories that remind us we can’t escape our myths, our internalized ideas of what saviors and heroes ought to be—knights who slay dragons, gods who carry out their lofty tasks uncomplainingly, kings who always make good decisions.

These ideals aren’t wrong. Sometimes, we do need a guy in shining armor to rush in and protect the villagers. But more often, heroes are something entirely else. It’s the other heroes these stories celebrate, such as a homeless girl trying to help a fellow street person or siblings protecting one another against a cadre of cruel overlords. In two stories, characters refuse to cave to societal pressures—in “The Silvering,” the culture demands that people wear gloves to prevent their hands from turning to a magical alloy. In “The Art of Remaining Bitter,” a little girl living in a Giver-type dystopia clings to her negative (but authentic) emotions before they are siphoned out of her by some arcane medical procedure.

Sometimes, a heroic act can have dramatic and far-reaching implications, like the queen risking everything to rescue her royal husband in “Mind Body Soul.” Other times, it’s those small actions that make a crucial difference, like the boy who learns to believe in himself in “The Last Dragon.”
Certainly, heroes are capable of mistakes. In the title story, Death grants immortality to his beloved, who does not requite him. In “The Wheat Witch,” a man, believing he has committed a heinous crime, returns to his hometown in Kansas, where a witch holds sway over his family farm. (Being from the Midwest, I was pleased to see an Old World legend brought to the Heartland.) His tie to the land evoked the Fisher King; his penance to the witch brought to mind Hercules’ tasks and Psyche’s trials. I’m a sucker for re-tellings, for writers who find fresh ways to connect us to our past beliefs, thereby capturing something universal.

There were only a few stories in this collection that left me cold, but if there is a sin that several of them committed, it’s that they left me wanting more. “The Silvering” definitely felt like it was laying the groundwork for a fantasy epic, which I would really love to see fleshed out.

I particularly enjoyed “Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight,” an interesting intersection of old school fantasy and technology, also superbly written. “The Witch Bottle” was a unique take on witchcraft in colonial America, and the most morally ambiguous of the bunch—it was a classic horror story in the sense that no one is good and the bad guy gets away. I’m not sure how that ties into the hero theme, unless one considers everyone is a hero in his/her own mind?

But, hands-down, the standout for me was “Sometimes They Come Back,” (not to be confused with the Stephen King story/film, and not a reference to it either—at least, not as far as I can tell). It’s the tale of an Einherjar (soldiers out of Norse mythology) who now goes by the Caretaker, servant to a mysterious Grande Dame in a shadowy underworld that exists uncomfortably close to our own plane of existence. Other gods and mythological creatures make appearances, but his closest companion is a humble mouse that rides around in his pocket. This story was brilliantly written, and by turns fascinating, funny, and disturbing. I was a bit disappointed that it turned into a run-of-the-mill love story—I could spend a whole book just hanging out with the Caretaker while he tends to his dark duties.  

If these writers are insecure, I can’t wait to see what they’ll be like when they gain a bit of confidence. 


Hero Lost will be available May 2 on Amazon


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Goodbye, Grand

Photo credit: The Kansas City Star. Natch.

I was saddened to hear recently that the Kansas City Star building at 1729 Grand is up for sale. That historic building is where the Star’s founder, William Rockhill Nelson, once had his office; the site where Ernest Hemingway once worked as a young reporter.

My childhood was colored by newspapers. My earliest memories of Sunday mornings involve spreading the comics on the kitchen table, helping my mother clip and sort coupons. As I grew older, my interests expanded: the crossword puzzle, Dear Abby, the op-ed section, film and book reviews, local events, political cartoons. Eventually, I got around to the front page headlines. During the summers, when I spent most of my time at my grandparents’ house, I would accompany my grandfather to the convenience store to pick up a paper every day before breakfast.

By the time I was ten, I loved being the first one up in the morning because it meant running out to the driveway to grab the paper, so I didn’t have to wait for anybody else to read it. 

When I was thirteen, the Star posted an article announcing their launch of Teen Star, a section that was to be written by and for teens. There was an all-call for young writers and photographers, with a number for the newly-appointed Teen Star editor, Bill Norton. I immediately called up Bill and after a brief interview, I was hired. We agreed that my best friend at the time and I would start out by writing a series of TV reviews. (Even then, I was a collaborator.)

A week or so later, my friend and I went to the building at 1729 Grand and met Bill in person. He gave us a tour of the facility. The printing press was still housed there in those days. We got to see the open floor where the reporters had their desks. A professional photographer snapped headshots for our bylines. At thirteen, Bill told me, I was the youngest regular contributor to the Star. I don’t know if I still hold that record or not, but it’s an honor I’ve never forgotten.

My friend and I wrote a handful of TV reviews: Grace Under Fire, The X-Files, Home Improvement, a few others. We even got paid. I don’t remember the exact amount, $25 or $30 an article. It seemed like a fortune to my thirteen-year-old self—getting to do something I loved, and getting paid for it? Was this real life? I was rich! And famous! Word quickly got around at school that my friend and I were writing for the Star. When our first article came out, classmates asked for autographs. Fellow TV fans sent us letters telling us why they agreed or disagreed with our assessment of their favorite shows.

After a few months, my friend lost interest, but I kept going. Throughout high school, I wrote a humor column, fancying myself Erma Bombeck for the letter jacket set. I clipped and saved most of those articles in a scrapbook (which I would share here, but they’re in a box in my parent’s house back in KC).

Recently, I watched the film Spotlight, which was a heady reminder of just how crucial journalism is—not just to democracy, but to our society as a whole. Good journalism, I mean, reporting with integrity, not whatever some random guy on the Internet happens to be spewing at any given moment.
I know, I know. Journalistic ideals are just that—ideals. Some people took their work very seriously, abiding by ethical guidelines and a standard of quality—some people still do. Some people never did. Ever since the beginning of the press, there have been people with agendas to push, or people who are just plain greedy, willing to do whatever it takes to sell more papers. “You supply the war, I’ll supply the headlines,” the yellow press, muckraking, tabloids. There’s no such thing as a perfect system.

Being at the end of an era is always a strange thing. Print media is dying. With the constant demand for online content, quality is sacrificed, as is veracity. And people don’t clip coupons with their moms anymore. Instead of stepping outside every morning to pick up the paper that someone delivered, I roll over in bed and turn on my phone to see the headlines.

So many writers once cut their teeth in the newspaper industry. Now we do… what? Blog, I guess? It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just change. But mourning what once was isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Reviews and Interviews



2017 continues to be a good year, you guys. Here's the latest:

In February, the lovely Erika Beebe reviewed The Winter Prince over on her site, Cloud Nine Girl. She writes, "If you're a fan of fairy tales, you'll love The Winter Prince. Captivating, vivid, from the creatures you'll meet to the outstanding dialogue, The Winter Prince will draw you in and hold your attention all the way through the fantastic end." Thanks, Erika!

More recently, I was interviewed by Darrell Laurant over at his website, Snowflakes in a Blizzard. He seeks out books with unique topics that don't fall neatly into genre categories, so he invited me to talk about Under Julia. I hope you get a chance to check out not only my interview, but take a moment to look around. Darrell has definitely unearthed some hidden gems of the indie world-- I know I've downloaded quite a few books featured there already. Keep up the good work, Darrell! 

I have some exciting projects in the works. One magazine has accepted three of my poems. They've asked that I do audio recordings of all three, and even put them to music, so I'm working with Tripp Kirby of The Electric Lungs to make that happen. This just might be the most awesome thing I've ever done. These guys are amazingly talented, and you should definitely check out some of their tunes.





Friday, February 24, 2017

Poetry for the ears, brain and heart: Aging and Other Side Projects


I first met Tony Plocido… geez, seven years ago? We met at a midnight poetry reading in KC, in what was to be my introduction to the spoken word performance/slam poetry scene.

Since then, I’ve seen Tony perform many times, and have even been privileged to read new work on occasion when he needed feedback. It was through Tony and other poets in that circle that I’ve come to really appreciate performance poets, whose work places a whole different set of demands on them than if they were merely scribbling things down.

But from the get-go, I could see and appreciate Tony’s lack of ego. He was just as happy to speak other people’s words as he was his own, to write and perform duets with other poets, and to tirelessly promote other artists whose work he believes in. His poetry is honest, funny, self-deprecating, warm, and above all, true. This comes as no surprise, since Tony carries these qualities with him always. With his work, what you see is what you get, which, in the poetic world, can be incredibly refreshing. I’m pleased to say that it shines through in his first (mostly) solo collection, Aging and Other Side Projects.

Because of that spirit of collaboration, two of the poems in this collection were written with other poets. But Tony’s voice, with its wry, clear-eyed observations, is definitely the centerpiece. Upon reaching age forty, he explores multiple aspects of aging: the loss of loved ones (including pets), the vanishing of youthful dreams, the way that relationships never seem to get any easier. It also examines the way in which the world seems to speed up around us, and, perhaps most disconcertingly, how we cease to recognize the face in the mirror. It’s been said that getting old is not for sissies, and Tony cuts right to the heart of the axiom with this short but sharp little book.

“Biko Kitty” broke my heart. “Breathing the Story,” (written with Prim-One), knocked me out with these kick-ass lines:

I long to tell stories
that will breathe when I cannot.
That dance
when my feet fail me.
That sing in notes
only known to those who have felt me love.
That will remember love
when the world has forgotten it.
That will form over the wounds
of the broken, like fresh flesh mending them…

Given the nature of spoken word performance pieces, of course, these poems are best read aloud—it’s the best way to enjoy the incremental repetitions, the alliteration, the slanted and internal rhymes. But it is a testament to the poets’ skill that they can be enjoyed just as well in silence, a voice speaking so matter-of-factly inside your head, it’s like they’re right there talking to you. Even if you’ve never met them, they’re already old friends, and this is a cozy chat over coffee, one where you find yourself constantly nodding along in agreement.

Purchase Aging and Other Side Projects on Lulu here

Connect with Tony:
Twitter: @teeplo



Friday, January 27, 2017

More publication news



Hey, folks. I wanted to share that I had some more work appear in literary magazines this month.

In Joey and the Black Boots: the reBoot"Storm" and "The Love Song of Trees." The latter was inspired by the work of KC-based photographer (and a very dear friend of mine), Robert Gano.

In Wraparound South"Mother's Day," "Liberation," and "The Laborers." Editor Laura Valeri said these poems "lyrically portray the humble plight of the down-trodden."

And just ICYMI, The GNU Journal's Feast for the Mind: "The Debriding."

As you can see, I've been a very busy little writer bee. I'm working on some short stories, so hopefully those will find a home the way my poems have.

I hope you get a chance to stop by and check out the new work. If so, please feel free to leave a comment. I'm always thrilled to hear from you!







Sunday, January 15, 2017

"The Debriding" in GNU Journal

The Winter Poetry issue of GNU Journal is out, A Feast for the Mind. It includes my poem, "The Debriding."

The magazine is available as a free ebook, so get yourself a copy!