Coming Soon: ZIPLESS, a Rock & Roll Romance — Scottish Style!

ZiplessZIPLESS, romantic comedy, e-novella

Coming  June 16th from Lyrical Press, an imprint of Kensington Publishing

Add to your read list on Goodreads.

Add to your wishlist on Kensington Publishing.

Pre-order on Amazon

Pre-order on Barnes & Noble

Read an excerpt on Google Books

Contact me if you are a reviewer who would like an advance review copy or request it from NetGalley

 

Rocking, rolling and romancing in New York City — Scottish style!

Unable to perform due to paralyzing anxiety, singer-songwriter Lou Marzaroli has been managing her brother’s band for years, driving them out of Scotland and into the big time. But days before their American network debut, the band is imploding and Lou is relieving her stress in a no-strings-attached sexual encounter with an aging scenester she’s nicknamed Zippy.

The Zipman is sometimes remembered as Crash Burns, formerly of seminal L.A. glampunk band, Snakebite. It’s been years since he’d trashed the eyeliner and hairspray, and he hasn’t written a song since. Now he’s penning lyrics about the mysterious woman he last saw sprinting barefoot in a miniskirt down West Twenty Third. She’s the muse he’s been longing for, and he’s determined to be more than her one night stand.

When the head honchos learn Lou wrote the band’s material, they agree to give her the TV spot, sending her to be coached by their performance guru, Crash Burns. Now Lou must put herself in Zippy’s hands as he coaxes a life-changing performance from her. And the man who used to perform in nothing but a leather thong must find ways to get her confident on stage- and content in only one bed.

Posted in Romance Novels | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly: Call for Submissions, Issue 3

SFRQuarterly_issue1_coverSci-Fi Romance short stories sought for publication in Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly. Must include SF and Romance elements with an upbeat ending. We prefer stronger heroines to passive ones.

Length: 1,000 to 7,500 words.

Payment: $25 (US) paid upon publication, promotional biography with two links, and a complimentary quarter-page advertisement.

Deadline: May 01, 2014.

Rights sought:  six-month exclusive world digital BhlxfbGCIAA5Nj5rights from date of publication; non-exclusive thereafter.

Other info:

One short story will be published per quarterly issue. Please send only edited and polished work, with the understanding that the majority will be rejected. Due to time constraints, we are unable to give personalized feedback on rejected stories.

Stories that tie-in to a previously established world will be considered, but story must stand alone.

All sub-genres of science fiction will be considered.

Any heat level, from sweet to erotic, will be considered. Be aware that the fiction editor prefers her erotica on the literary side.

Original, previously unpublished fiction only. No fan fiction, please.

Submit: Standard manuscript format, please. Send brief cover letter with biographical information and publication history, along with attached story (.RTF or .DOC format) to Diane Dooley:  Fiction@SciFiRomanceQuarterly.org by deadline

 

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Short Story: The Brook Beneath the Willow Tree

CopingMy most recently published short story is rather an unusual one for me. It isn’t speculative fiction. It isn’t even a horror story in the way most people understand the horror genre. But it’s my idea of a horror story, being that it’s based in fact. People actually did suffer these horrors.

Several years ago I watched the news documentary that earned Geraldo Rivera a well-deserved Peabody Award. He and a cameraman slipped into a place called Willowbrook State School. The results of their investigation was called Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace. You can see a preview of it here. A few years later I read about how hundreds of unmarked graves were being dug up at Willowbrook,  though authorities had no way of actually putting names to the dead.

Who were these people who died so forgotten? And how did they die so forgotten? My short story, The Brook Beneath the Willow Tree, is the possible perspective of one of them. And it’s the only thing I’ve ever written that made me cry as I was writing it.

I’m sure after this introduction you want to rush out and purchase it. Right? Well, probably not. It is a very sad story. But if you don’t mind the brutal, horrific truth, the story is available in COPING: A Not One of Us Special Publication. This magazine specializes in presenting the voices of those who have been shunned by society, and so is a perfect home for my short story. The issue contains art, fiction, and poetry. 

You can purchase a copy of COPING for $3.50 by contacting john@not-one-of-us

Willowbrook State School was not the only institution like this. They were all across the country. The polio vaccine was tested on the disabled residents of Letchworth Village, considered a model institution in its time. The following video is a visit to its overgrown graveyard. Maybe the boy in my story is buried here. I hope so. It’s a lovely place, even if the graves do have numbers instead of names.

Posted in Horror and Dark Fantasy, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly: Issue 2

BhlxfbGCIAA5Nj5The second issue of Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly is now available. This is a themed issue. Welcome to the wonders of Steampunk Romance!

Get the current issue.

Get Issue 1.

Learn more about Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly.

Follow us on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

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Giveaway of E-Novella: Mako’s Bounty

DD_Makos Bounty_MD

For nine long months, at the behest of the evil Ravenscorp, Mako Dolan has been hunting the space pirate they call The Saint. Now she’s finally lured her prey to a one night stand with a mysterious woman—herself. But Vin Sainte is not at all what she expected. Far from being a ruthless space pirate, his main occupation seems to be rescuing nuns, adopting orphans and praying like a champ.

For nine long months Vin Sainte has been fleeing the bounty hunter from one temporary refuge to the next. Now he’s got Mako exactly where he wants her: weak from gravity sickness and ripe for conversion. Problem is he didn’t expect a foul-mouthed, hard-as-nails bounty hunter to be such a devoted daughter. His head on a platter is Ravenscorp’s price for her mother’s freedom.

They have less than twenty four hours. One will win; one will lose. Mako might be a fearsome predator, but Vin has the Lord on his side. Who will win the bounty?

Publisher: Decadent Publishing

Buy links for e-formats: Decadent PublishingKindle

* * *

Sound like something you might enjoy? Then here’s a very easy entry rafflecopter giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Five Anti-War Songs and a YouTube Addiction

Courtesy of erjkpunczyk/flickr

Courtesy of erjkpunczyk/flickr

*sigh* A YouTube addiction is a serious thing, you know. The time I have to put into it boggles the mind! Hours go by and I find myself watching live performances of people I’ve never heard from countries I’ve never visited and whose language I don’t speak. I love it. *sigh*

Sometimes I wonder if there are others out there like me. Sometimes I start making lists of musical themes I want to blog about. So here goes.

I was on an anti-war song kick recently, and started making a list of my favorites. The list went on and one, so I sub-themed it, then sub-sub-themed it. (I can hear you! Stop calling me a geek!)

So here’s my list of five great anti-war songs recorded by British artists in the 1980’s, which was a fantastic decade for music. In no particular order of preference, except for the last, which is one of the greatest and saddest songs ever written. Hats off to Eric Bogle.

1) Red Army Blues  by the Waterboys (1984)

Is it an anti-war song or an anti-Stalin song? I can’t decide. I just know I love it. My husband doesn’t, objecting to the length and the bombastic saxaphone. What is your opinion? Too much? Leonard Winters does a superb job of editing old footage to this song. Many powerful images, and be warned… many disturbing ones.

2) Enola Gay by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (1980)

Painful and haunting. Thoughtful and addictive. Synthpop taken to another level. Simply perfection.

3) Army Dreamers by Kate Bush (1980)

A song as unique, original, intense and eccentric as its writer and performer.

4) Island of No Return by Billy Bragg (1984)

A song about the Falklands War. There aren’t too many of them, and certainly none with this kind of ferocity and sadness. Slideshow courtesy of zzjabzz.

5) And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda by the Pogues (1985)

Many artists have recorded this song, but none match the gruff tenderness of the Pogues’ Shane McGowan, spitting out the brutal lines with complete and utter believability. majorsnag does an excellent job with images and editing.

Posted in I Call It Genius, Other Stuff | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Announcing the Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly!

SFRQuarterly_issue1_cover

The Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly is a free digital magazine devoted to all things sci-fi romance. It’s a convenient, one-stop destination for science fiction romance news and information.

The first issue  launched November 15, 2013. Each issue will cover a three-month period.

Content you’ll discover includes:

* Topical columns on a variety of SFR-related subjects

* Honest, in-depth book reviews

* Information about new science fiction romance releases

* An exclusive, original sci-fi romance short story!

The team behind Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly is K.S. Augustin, Editor-in-Chief, Diane Dooley, Fiction Editor, and Heather Massey, Releases Editor.

For more information, visit scifiromancequarterly.org

Or follow @SciFiRomance on Twitter

*Permission to forward granted*

Posted in Science Fiction and Science Fiction Romance | Tagged | 2 Comments

Call For Submissions: Steampunk Romance Short Stories

SteampunkShort stories sought for the upcoming Steampunk issue of Science Fiction Romance Quarterly.

Length: 1,000 – 7,500 words. Stories must include Steampunk and Romance elements with an upbeat ending.

Payment: $25 (U.S.) paid upon publication, promotional biography w/two links, and a complimentary quarter-page advertisement.

Deadline: January 31st, 2014.

Rights Sought: Six month exclusive world digital rights from date of publication; non-exclusive thereafter.

Other Info:

Story must be inspired by the pictorial prompt given by the editors (see above).

Only one short story will be published so please send edited and polished work with the understanding that the majority will be rejected. Due to time constraints we are unable to give personalized feedback on rejected stories.

Stories that tie-in to a previously established world will be considered, but story must stand alone.

Any heat level from sweet to erotic will be considered. Be aware that the fiction editor prefers her erotica on the literary side.

Original, previously unpublished fiction only; no fan fiction, please.

Submit: Standard manuscript format, please . Send brief cover letter with biographical information and publication history along with attached story (.rtf or .doc format) to Diane Dooley: fiction@scifiromancequarterly.org by January 31st, 2014

Venue: Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly

Editor-in-Chief: K.S. Augustin

Co-ordinating Editor: Heather Massey

Fiction Editor: Diane Dooley

http://www.scifiromancequarterly.org/

Posted in Other Stuff, Science Fiction and Science Fiction Romance | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The Cuter Side of Horror

 

Smiling DogI wrote this story a while back and have had it out on submission from time to time to no avail. The general consensus seems to be that it’s far too cute to be a horror story. So rather than keep going with it, I think I’ll put it up here for free. Have a Happy Halloween, everyone!

Image courtesy of thezartorialist.com

Furbaby

It wasn’t my idea. Murray from Accounting mentioned one day that he’d gotten his wife a puppy after the kids left home. His wife hadn’t handled the empty nest any better than my Martha. According to Murray it gives them something to love and suddenly the good cooking and the efficient housecleaning starts again. It worked for Martha too. Sort of.

I’d been miserable since the second of our two sons had gone off to college. Martha slept or wept or stared at the TV that wasn’t even turned on. She sighed and whispered about how quiet the house was. For me it was bland TV dinners and a growing pile of my dirty laundry. Not long after that I noticed how dusty and unkempt the house was. She didn’t cook my favorite meals; she barely noticed my existence. It was a far cry from the good wife she’d once been. She barely showered and it was a rare day that she even got dressed.

One day I couldn’t find my golf clubs. My repeated demands for them resulted only in Martha burying her face in the couch cushions. I knew it was time to take action. Yelling had no effect. She refused to go to the doctor. My threats to leave her were ignored.  In the end I took Murray’s advice and went to the local pet store.

The thing was a hideous. I couldn’t believe I was paying good money for something so repulsive, but Murray had said something small and ugly would appeal to Martha’s overactive maternal side, just like it had his wife’s. I bought all the accouterments—dog biscuits, collar, leash—and took it all home, putting everything in the living room. I picked up the dog. It was small and warm and shivering, then deposited it in the crook of Martha’s arm. She ignored it— until a small pink tongue came out and licked her hand. Her eyes opened and she petted it on its bony head.

I went to bed hopeful that night, envisioning a clean house, a lovingly prepared meal, my golf clubs gleaming and propped up in a sensible place. I’d soon have my wife doing all the things she used to do and my life would be perfect again. I’d be able to focus on my work and my golf and my newspaper and my coin collection. Martha would take care of the rest. I slept well.

Things improved. The house was clean, at least. Martha still wasn’t speaking to me, though. I would hear her having long phone conversations with the boys or whispering endearments to that horrible little brute. It was all so unfair. The boys never spoke to me unless asking for money and the dog had taken a dislike to me. It would bare its teeth and growl at me any time I came near, then hide behind Martha’s legs as if I’d tried to hurt it. I decided to bide my time. Things were getting better. Soon she’d be tackling the laundry and cooking pot roasts and polishing my golf clubs again. Soon.

And then it happened. I came home from work to the smell of sizzling meat. I hovered over the stove, dipping my fingers in to steal a piece of the food. Martha appeared and smacked my hand. She smacked it hard. “Not for you!” she snapped. I held my smarting hand and looked down at the little beast that was rubbing against her ankles. I swear it was smiling at me, its tongue hanging out in a grotesque insult, its black eyes twinkling in self-satisfaction. I decided right then and there that the little monster had to go. Murray’s plan was a spectacular failure. I would get rid of the dog and find some other way to restore Martha to her wifely duties. Maybe it would get out and be run over? Maybe a bigger neighborhood dog could accidentally kill it? I would think of something.

I went upstairs. My dirty golf clubs had been tossed carelessly on my bed and my smelly laundry was all over the floor. And on my pillow, right there, on my pillow, was a brown coil of feces. A small yip made me turn around. The monster was smiling at me again, its stubby tail wagging. I picked up my five iron and advanced. It seemed to have lost its fear of me; it just stood there— waiting. I lifted the club over my head and brought it down as fast as I could towards that bony little skull, but it darted out of the way just in time. It retreated from the bedroom, still smiling, still wagging. I rushed at it, swinging the club again.

It all happened so quickly. The rush out of my bedroom, a sharp turn to the left, the damn dog basket in my way and the long, painful fall to the bottom of the stairs, my head smashing against every single step. I remember Martha calling the ambulance and comforting, not me, but the damn little monster, now trembling and whining as if in fear. But when she went to the door to let the EMTs in, that little brute smiled at me again. It smiled in victory.

I lived, obviously. If you can call my existence in this nursing home living. The shattered jaw, the broken spine, and the head injury left me paralyzed, speechless, but completely compos mentis. I listen to Martha when she visits. She smiles as she accuses me of driving our children away, of treating her like a doormat, of being a complete failure as a father and a husband. All the time the monster grins at me from her lap. It licks her hand as she tells me the boys are moving home and of how much she got for my golf clubs.

I lie here fantasizing about murder: first the dog, then Martha and, finally, and most painfully, that god damn Murray from Accounting. 

 

Posted in Horror and Dark Fantasy | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Luke Walker: New Release and Interview!

Author Luke WalkerI’m always happy to have author Luke Walker come visiting. This time he’s got a new release to tell us about.

 Welcome back to my blog, Luke. What’s been happening in your part of the world?

All the sex, drugs and rock and roll that comes with being a writer. Not really. All the hard work, email checking, subbing, rejections and the occasional acceptance that comes with being a writer. Outside writing, decorating my house and wondering how soon I need to grow my winter beard.

I’ve already got my winter beard started! So, tell us about your latest release.

Mirror of the Nameless is a novella that owes quite a bit to writers such as HP Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. My original plan was to write something in their style, but I realised pretty quickly that wasn’t going to happen. Their style isn’t mine, and if I’d carried on with that first attempt, it would have been an insult to them and a terrible book. So I decided to use my own style but do my best to keep their atmosphere.

Basically, it’s set in a world not a million miles from our own. However, their world is ruled by three gods. Three not very nice gods. Because of this and because everybody knows the gods can destroy everything whenever they like, a lot of people don’t care much about rules or law. Crime is everywhere. Pollution is destroying the planet. And sacrifices are regularly offered to the gods by the authorities and by rogue worshippers. If you’re old or poor or seen as a trouble-maker, the chances are you’ll be sacrificed. My main character, Dave, is a forty year old dad whose daughter Ashleigh is away at university. Dave keeps his head down and stays out of trouble. But when his daughter’s boyfriend Tom finds him to tell Ashleigh is on a mission to rid the world of its gods, he knows he has to find her before she’s offered to the gods.

Sounds like a good read. What else are you working on?

I’m currently halfway through the second draft of a full-length horror novel. While I don’t like to talk too much about works in progress, I will say it opens with several people who have no connection to one another being kidnapped all over Britain and then transported to a remote location in Scotland. Once there, they find out the man who arranged their kidnappings has some nasty plans for them. If they’re going to survive, they need to find out if anything does link them all and then fight back against a man who has one more awful secret about who he really is.

I’m hoping to have to this draft done by the middle of October. While it rests for a month, I’ll work on freshening up a couple of older books which I think have some life in them.

You write both Horror and Dark Fantasy.  What’s the difference between them?

The-Red-Girl510x765Tough one. I class my first book, The Red Girl, as out and out horror. Its follow-up, ’Set, is a dark fantasy simply because it deals with more fantastical issues (angels, demons, and Heaven and Hell working together to prevent the end of everything) and there’s a lot less graphic violence than most of my other stuff.

'SETOf course, there’s much more to the differences than that. It’s in the subject and characters and mood of a particular book. While I tend to head towards the darker side of fiction in whatever I write, I sometimes don’t know if I’m going to end up with a horror piece or a dark fantasy. In that case, it’s best to let the mood and characters decide.

What have you been reading recently?

Apocalypse CowI just finished Michael Logan’s Apocalypse Cow, which was great fun. The title made me laugh so I added it to my pile of books and enjoyed every page. It’s a funny, frightening and exciting story of a manmade virus which affects cows to start with, then spreads. Before long, Britain is overrun by angry animals all out to make a meal of us. If James Herbert and Robert Rankin had written a book, it would be this one.

Other than that, I recently read Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough. I love Sarah’s stuff and this was another winner. While the Jack the Ripper murders are happening, there’s another murder spree going on from a totally different killer. Sarah uses a shifting POV so you really get into the heads of the men investigating the crimes as well as those who are part of it in different ways. I’m currently reading Black Angel by John Connolly, and Dark Room by Steve Mosby. Enjoying both immensely.

Describe your dream vacation.

My wife and I went to Portugal for our honeymoon four years ago. We were a couple of miles outside the main tourist area which suited us perfectly. We didn’t want to be slap bang in the middle of a load of bars so having what felt like our own area but not being too isolated was very cool. Other than that, I’ve got some friends in Canada I haven’t seen in years so a holiday near Toronto would be fine with me. And if you’re talking somewhere in the UK, I like old places with character and history. England’s history hasn’t always been pleasant especially when it comes to other countries, but we do have plenty of places worth visiting. Give me a week in the Peak District or somewhere rural like Devon, (and as long as there’s a pub), and I’ll be happy.

What’s your best piece of advice for an aspiring writer?

Finish what you start. It’s easy to say you’re a writer when all you have to show for it is a load of notes on books you’d write if only you had the time, or a bunch of books you’ve started and binned because you find that even when you get to 20,000 words, you’re not even halfway done. It’s hard work, but if you want to be a writer, you finish what you start. You also make a lot of sacrifices. You know all that time you spend online or watching TV or seeing your friends? It’s gone. Unless you don’t need to work a 9-5, you make sacrifices to get your stories written. That’s not to say you don’t need downtime. Of course you do. Just be careful that downtime doesn’t eat too much into writing time.

Join places like absolutewrite.com. Read what experienced writers have to say. Pay attention. And read published books. Half of being a good writer is reading widely. Read the classics. Read current stuff. Absorb words. Roll around in them. Live stories written by people long dead. Enjoy written fiction as much as you enjoy creating your own fiction.

The writing business can be pretty gruelling. What keeps you going?

A lot of coffee. And stubbornness. And a thick-headed refusal to stop. And the enjoyment of telling stories. And my wife. Always my wife.

Mirror of the NamelessBlurb: In a world controlled by three monstrous gods ready to destroy everything at any point they choose, Dave Anderson knows the only way he can survive is to do the same as everybody else – keep his head down, question nothing and hope he doesn’t end up sacrificed to the gods. That’s his plan until he discovers his teenage daughter is risking her life in an attempt to rid the world of its rulers.

Terrified of losing his daughter, Dave joins her boyfriend in a frantic search while trying to avoid the authorities eager to offer him to their dark lords. The men must fight their way through a country governed by fear towards a derelict manor where a weapon for change and hope awaits. Here, a long-dead writer has left clues pointing to an object that might free the world of its terrible masters…or lead to something far worse…

Thanks for joining us, Luke. Best of luck with the new release!

Buy links: Amazon US  Amazon UK

You can pester Luke on Twitter and at his blog (he likes it).  Or add/rate/review his books on Goodreads.

 

Posted in Author Interviews, Horror and Dark Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments