Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Locksmith's Closet by Paul Briggs

Paul Briggs learned to read and write when he was two, about the same time he learned to talk. He then spent the next twenty years learning that most people don't talk the same way they write.

He lives in Maryland, has a master's degree in journalism, worked for a daily paper for 12 years and is also an actor, editor and proofreader. He is the author of several short plays, including the award-winning "The Worst Super Power Ever" and "The Picture of Health."

"Locksmith's Closet" is his first novel.

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About the Book

In the first book of the Locksmith Trilogy, 12-year-old Lachlan Smith discovers a portal to the future in his bedroom closet. Going through, he and his friend Gary discover a world where all humans disappeared decades ago. When they learn that the future can be changed, they set out to discover what happened and prevent it from happening. Meanwhile, a mysterious man has appeared who claims to be the true owner of the Smith house and the portal and will stop at nothing to get them.

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Keep reading for an excerpt:

And so, a few minutes later, Gary was looking over the panel. Lock had told him about Hance having the closet locked, and about the weird noise behind the panel. It was strange how totally unscary everything looked by daylight.

“That guy must have been planning all along to get back in here,” said Gary. “See? The nail heads aren’t flush with the wood. They stick out a little bit, so you can get the claw under them. A little more hammering, and they’d have gone all the way in and it’d be a whole lot harder to get them out. As it is, it should be pretty easy.”

When Lock put the claw of the hammer on one of the nails, it came halfway out at the first tug. “Looks like you’re right,” he said.

One by one, the nails came out. Lock lifted the panel off the floor, looked down and… stared in disbelief. He was looking down into another room — but not one on the first floor of this house.

Almost all he could see of it was the floor — but that was a whole world of weird by itself. It was made of timbers that looked ancient and half-rotten, and there were mushrooms and lichens growing out of it. Stranger still, it wasn’t flat, it was V-shaped, at such a deep angle that it would be very hard to walk on it.

Strangest of all was that Lock could see, now, what had been making the scraping noise. It was a tree branch — the tip of what looked like a healthy red maple branch. It was coming from somewhere off to the side, in the direction the light was coming from. Also, there seemed to be ivy growing on the ceiling — Lock could see it around the edges.

For a moment — for a very long moment — Lock and Gary just sat there staring. Then Lock touched the branch. It was still real. It felt perfectly normal. It was just where it was that was wrong. And the air coming out of the hole was warm and damp, and smelled very fresh. Lock guessed that this room was open to the outside, that the tree branch had grown in from there, and that it had been the wind brushing it back and forth on the wooden panel that had made that sound. But… how was any of this possible?

Just to confirm this was real, Lock picked up a nail and dropped it into the hole — and here he got the biggest surprise of all. Instead of falling all the way down, landing on that strange floor and rolling into the center, it fell only a couple of feet, then slowed to a stop, hung in midair for a split second, then flew up again. It actually went back up into the closet, rising a few feet into the air, then dropping through again… then rising again… like a yo-yo without a string.
Finally, unable to stand it any longer, Lock caught the nail and put it down on the floor. It was creepy to see something as basic as gravity not working right. He looked around, half expecting things to start floating away.

“I’ve figured it out,” Gary finally said.

“You have?”

“Yeah. Wherever this portal goes to” — Lock realized that that was really what this was, a portal to somewhere else — “that’s not the floor down there, it’s the ceiling. So when the nail drops to the other side of this hole, it’s going up, not down — so it starts falling the other way.” Gary stuck his hand through the portal and waved it around, a look of concentration on his face.

“Yes,” he said at last. “That’s what’s going on… I wonder what’s really on the other side.” He looked at Lock, as if waiting for him to volunteer to step through it.

Do I really want to do this? thought Lock. What if it suddenly stops working while I’m in the middle of it? Maybe we could put a camera on a stick or something… But somehow he couldn’t say these things to Gary. He prepared to put a foot through, but Gary stopped him.

“Head first, dude,” said Gary. “Otherwise when you come out the other side, you’ll be upside down. Here, I’ll show you.” Gary took a deep breath and dove into the portal as if it were a swimming pool. Then he scrambled up out of it on the other side.

Diving headfirst anywhere always felt wrong to Lock, like he was just asking for a cracked skull. But he wasn’t about to let Gary show him up. He took the plunge.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Dyndaer by Joshua Robertson

Joshua currently lives in Alaska with his wife and children. In 1999, he began crafting the world for Thrice Nine Legends, including Melkorka and Anaerfell. He is also the author of the A Midwinter Sellsword and Gladiators and Thieves in the Hawkhurst Saga. His short story, Grimsdalr, is inspired by the tale of Beowulf.

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About the Book

Branimir emerges from the Netherworld as a living legend and learns the Ash Tree is still in danger from the cursed dagger, kaelandur. An old friend compels Branimir to finish what they started at Melkorka. Once again, the former slave must keep kaelandur out of uncertain hands, while struggling to separate heroes from villains and friends from foes. Some evils never lessen.

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Now, keep reading for an excerpt:

The demons of the Netherworld chased him. Four-legged, wolf-like creatures, known as Dreka, rammed their goat horns at Branimir. The gray, wrinkled skin clung to their gaunt frames. Thin lips were stretched back giving sight to the rows of teeth on the tops and bottoms of their bloodied gums.

Branimir tumbled, swinging his weapon and feeling it tear through flesh as easily as a hot blade through frost. For a moment, he may have heard Dorofej’s riddlesome voice—no, his cry—but Branimir had not the time to listen. Bran had to scramble, and sneak, and stab.

And stab. And stab. And stab.

The urgency of the battle and the demons thumped inside of his head.

“Stop!” A familiar voice, again, cried in desperation.

Crimson splattered his vision as his dagger cut through skin once more. His blade loved the taste of blood; he felt the need to drench it again.

Pain stung his leg, but it was quickly forgotten as demon after demon lunged for him. The Dreka were ever persistent in their attack. He spun, and twisted, and disappeared to avoid every demonic beast soaring through the air, vicious teeth aimed for his throat. They would not reach him. For a moment, he thought he saw a flash of Hanna’s wide eyes, but they looked unfamiliar. Treacherous. Evil. Besides, his dagger was already cocked behind his ear and he felt incapable of restraining himself.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre

New York Times Bestselling contemporary romance and erotica author Alessandra Torre is a leading name in the world of self and traditional publishing.

In 2012, a 28-year old Torre self-published her first novel, Blindfolded Innocence, an erotic romance which quickly grew in popularity, landing at #1 in Erotica and remaining there for over two weeks. In less than three months, she was earning five figures monthly. This success attracted the interest of literary agent Maura Kye-Casella and major publishing houses. 

Today, Torre has published nine novels, become an international bestselling author, has had numerous six-figure publishing contracts, and has attracted Hollywood interest in her erotic thriller The Girl in 6E

Alessandra Torre is represented by Maura Kye-Casella of Don Congdon & Associates. 

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About the Book

Cole Masten. Abandoned by his superstar wife, Hollywood’s Perfect Husband is now Hollywood’s Sexiest Bachelor: partying hard and screwing even harder. Watch out Los Angeles, there's a new bad boy in town. Summer Jenkins. That’s me, a small town girl stuck in Quincy, Georgia. I cook some mean chicken and dumplins, can bluff a grown man out of his savings in poker, and was voted Most Friendly my senior year. We were from different worlds. Our lives shouldn’t have collided. But then Cole Masten read a book about my small town. And six months later, his jet landed on our dusty airstrip, and he brought Hollywood with him. From the start, I knew he was trouble. For our town. And for me. Sometimes, opposites just aren’t meant to attract.

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Keep reading for an interview with Alessandra:

Do you have a "day job"? If so, what do you do?

Writing is my full time job. I work roughly 50 hours a week and that is evenly divided between writing and marketing.

What genres do you write?

Contemporary Romance
Erotic Romance
Erotic Suspense

Is there a genre that you've been wanting to experiment with? If so, what is it and what attracts you to it?

I have two ideas in my head -- one is a time traveler book, the other has more of a paranormal aspect... both of those I have sort of set aside for now. I think they both deserve a series, and I'm not in a place in my writing calendar where I can commit to more than one book at a time. I'd also love to write YA -- there is something so exciting and innocent about that time in a person's life. But my brand is so adult... I need to figure out the right way to move into that genre and make sure that I have a book that is worth it.

What inspires you to write?

I have stories inside that are bursting to come out. I often get impatient with my current works-in-progress because I am so anxious to get to the next book in my head. If I am ever short of inspiration I do a lot of reading and watching tv. Naps and walks also help.

What authors/books have most influenced you?

On Writing by Stephen King is the book that made me first put on my writer's hat -- it broke down the process of writing a book and really made it seem like a manageable journey. I love to read Gillian Flynn, Lisa Gardner and Liane Moriarty.

If you could choose an author to be your mentor, who would it be?

Nora Roberts. She has managed, despite her huge catalogue to still be fresh and exciting. I'd love to learn from her.

When did you first consider yourself an author?

Probably when I signed my first print deal. It was a two-book deal with Harlequin and really put me a position where I felt confident in my writing.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I never really considered any other option. I didn't have the confidence in my writing (or the patience) to query agents and publishers. I saw self-publishing as a great way to quietly put out my book and see what readers thought. I loved the freedom and independence of self-publishing. And now, after 5 traditionally published books, I'm not sure if I'll ever leave self-publishing again. I much prefer having 100% control and freedom with my books.

What fears do you have about writing and being an indie author? How do you cope with your fears?

At this point, with 12 published books, my fears are more on business related matters, rather than content. I worry about covers and formatting. I worry that there will be a glitch in a release, or that my preorders will disappear overnight. I have silly fears like dying while I am halfway through writing a book, and that that story will never be told. But I have grown confident enough in my writing that I don't worry about the reception. Which is good. One less thing to worry about. :)

Are you a pantser or outliner?

Pantser. Definitely. I've tried to write with an outline but it felt boring and contrived.

How long does it take you to write a book?

4-6 weeks to write the first draft. Then another month on rewrites and edits. Then I spend about a month promoting before release.

How do you come up with the titles for your books? Do you find it difficult?

Book titles either come very easily -- a word or phrase standing out during the writing process... or stumps me completely. With my most recent book, Love Chloe, I let the readers pick the title. That worked out well.

What are you working on now?

I'm finishing up the first draft of Love, Chloe. It releases on March 14th, so I need to hurry up and finish so that I can go through rewrites and polishes before release.

Do you have any advice for other authors?

Don't write to sell books. You will never be happy and it is so hard to succeed as a writer right now. You need to write because it makes you happy, and because you have a story in you that needs to be told. I have a lot of blog posts that new writers find helpful, you can see them on my website.