Move Over, Vamps and Shapeshifters! Get Ready for Elementals! by Elaine Calloway

Water's Blood by Elaine Calloway

BOOK PREVIEW

Move Over, Vamps and Shapeshifters! Get Ready for Elementals!

By Elaine Calloway

The supernatural has long been a fascination of humankind. Spooky things, creatures that go bump in the night, spells that turn evil people into toads, etc. These tales have been the delicious material of campfires and slumber parties.

Even as a child, my favorite cartoon was Scooby-Doo, which always had some form of ghost story at its center. It seemed only fitting that I would grow up, longing to tell similar anecdotes. And while I do have a few ghost stories in the works, I decided to take the plunge into Indie Publishing with my 4-book Elemental Clan Series. (The jury is still out on whether this decision was blind ambition or temporary insanity, though the experience has been incredible!)

Water’s Blood, available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, is the first book in the series and features Brooke, a Water Elemental stationed in New Orleans. The Crescent City was an ideal setting for a book featuring a Water-related character, since New Orleans is surrounded by water on all sides! I grew up there and enjoyed using my favorite areas as backdrops to the plot. The city has many tourist places, and I liked adding in a few secret spots that don’t make the top of the tourism circuit. To read more about this particular book, including the music soundtrack which I created to help inspire the characters, go to the Water’s Blood page on Elaine’s Web site.

Book Blurb:

After breaking the rules to mate with a human, Water Elemental Brooke is forbidden to share a life with Alex and their half-breed daughter, Ella. Yet local Fallen Angel clans are determined to snare Ella for themselves. Brooke broke the rules once by allowing love to interfere with her Elemental duties. Now she and Alex must put consequences aside again—if they wish to save their daughter’s soul.

Leaping into Indie Publishing has been quite a learning experience, but I’ve loved having control over my cover art, my publishing schedule, and more. Very worthwhile decision! Another writer once said, “It’s a learning process.” She couldn’t have said it better. That is exactly what it is, but very worthwhile.

Thanks so much for having me on the blog today! Any questions or comments are welcome!

Questions from Christine Bode of Scully Love Promo:

Hi Elaine! I just ordered this book from Amazon.com and can’t wait to read it! My first question is when you wrote your main characters Brooke & Alex, did you write them with famous actors in mind and if so, who were those actors?

Elaine: As far as actors/people in mind for Brooke and Alex, yes, absolutely. If I don’t have some kind of visual in my head when I write (be it Hollywood star, old acquaintance, etc.) then the writing doesn’t go as well.

Alex was Kevin McKidd, who has been in a few films but was probably most well known for Grey’s Anatomy in the later seasons. Brooke was Rosario Dawson. Ella was Melonie Diaz.

Bad guys – Soren = Sam Elliott; Cristos = Paul Bettany

There is a Pinterest board I have for WATER’S BLOOD if you want to see pics of all my visual inspiration  And I have one for Book Two as well.

http://pinterest.com/elainecalloway/water-s-blood-book-one-elemental-clan-series-by-el/

Christine: Have you written the second installment of The Elemental Clan series yet?

Elaine: Yes, Book Two of the Elemental Series, RAGING FIRE, is scheduled to be released on 8/1. Am just going through and inputting final beta reader comments now. You can see the cover on its page on my site here:

http://www.thewriterscanvas.com/raging-fire-book-two

My goal is to do the EARTH one by Christmas, the WIND one by spring.

Elaine Calloway grew up in New Orleans with a love of gothic architecture and Author Elaine Callowayall things paranormal. Despite no longer living there, she can still do a decent Cajun accent upon request! She is currently writing The Elemental Clan Series and plotting some ghost stories. To connect with Elaine online, visit her website at http://www.elainecalloway.com.

The Day Death Died by Boris Glikman

The Day Death Died image by Andy Paciorek

Image by Andy Paciorek

It’s time for another quirky short story from Australian author Boris Glikman. Death is a topic that has been on my mind a lot over the last couple of years as I’ve lost so many people I’ve known and loved so this concept is particularly thought-provoking for me. Enjoy!

THE DAY DEATH DIED

It was widely known that Death had been ill for some time. Its poor health made it rather slipshod in the execution of its duties. Whole generations were being taken away in the flower of their youth, while other people were living for an extraordinarily long time, over 400 years in certain cases.

For a while Death hovered in a half-alive condition, with one foot in the grave, and mankind held its breath, fearing that it would rally and make a complete recovery.

And then the day came when Death breathed its last and nobody could believe their good fortune. It was hard to grasp that Death no longer dwelled in the world, and that one’s life would never again be burdened with the ever-present spectre of extinction hovering nearby. No one would have to grapple any more with the problem of incorporating one’s own demise into their lives.

The most eminent pathologists of the land were assigned the task of performing autopsy on Death. Their unanimous conclusion was that it died of natural causes. What nobody had suspected was that Death possessed a finite life span. Everyone always assumed that it would live forever, yet it too carried within itself the lethal seeds of mortality.

The next most pressing issue on the agenda was the burial of Death. Issues that never have been considered before needed to be addressed urgently, for the world wanted to be sure that Death really was dead and would not rise again. Where should the funeral ceremony be held? According to which religion’s rites should the memorial service be conducted? Who should give the eulogy? Where to entomb it?

The matter of whom to invite for the service proved to be the most intractable issue of all. It was nearly impossible to determine who was genuinely grief-stricken by Death’s passing and who only wanted to attend the ceremony so as to be a part of a historic occasion.

Eventually, all of these matters were resolved, although not to everyone’s satisfaction, and the world gave Death the sending off that it deserved. Straight after the funeral, the world kicked up its heels and started to celebrate.

After the wave of joy at being liberated from its tyrannical rule had abated, people sobered up and started to remember the ways that Death had helped out in the past.

They recalled with fondness Death’s unique ability to resolve every inextricable problem of existence; its unmatched faculty of erasing all pain, shame and misery; how it provided an honourable solution to hopeless situations and readily offered its helping hand to anyone that would ask for it; the way that it brought equality to the world and granted everlasting rest to the weary.

Religions could no longer survive without Death, for their appeal and authority derived from the promise of ideal existence in the next world. New religions arose which prophesied that one day mortality would return to Earth and that the virtuous would be rewarded with Eternal Death.

Mankind recognised how fundamentally it depended upon Death’s existence for the maintenance of social order and peaceful international relations. Given that capital punishment and armed conflicts ceased holding any threat to a person’s life, nothing stood in the way of lawlessness and immorality in human affairs, and countries went to war on the slightest pretext.

Life soon lost its meaning, for Death had been needed to provide the contrast that distinguished being from non-being. Without it, existence seemed tedious, no longer worth enduring.

Each human being was forced to find the strength to face a baffling future in which the saving grace of demise was no longer present. Only then was it realised how Death had woven its fateful thread into every aspect of man’s existence and how much had been irremediably lost the day Death died.

Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology Features Our Man Fred by A.F. Stewart

Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk AnthologyBOOK PREVIEW

Mechanized Masterpieces: A Steampunk Anthology

Synopsis

Amid a cacophony of cranking sprockets and cogs, in chuffs of steam and soot, comes the expansion of classic literature into alternative Steampunk masterpieces. Follow nine skilled authors as they lead old friends and new acquaintances through Jamaica, Singapore, Cape Town, Denmark, Paris, London, and Geneva on a phantasmagorical Steampunk World Tour.

Tropic of Cancer: Edward Rochester battles the elements and Bertha Mason to save his brother and his own soul.

Sense and Cyborgs: Privateer Margaret Dashwood makes port at Singapore to get her husband back on his feet.

Micawber and Copperfield: Wilkins Micawber and David Copperfield create a legacy of loyalty in the Royal Dirigible Corps.

Little Boiler Girl: Power has a price, and one city unwittingly demands an enslaved child pay it.

The Clockwork Ballet: At the Palais Garnier, the Phantom trips the light fantastic with Meg Giry, the prima ballerina of his mechanical troupe.

His Frozen Heart: Jacob Marley saves Ebenezer Scrooge from robbing his wife’s grave and selling his soul.

Our Man Fred: Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, and his fiancé, Mary, protect the Empire from mechanized malfeasance.

Lavenza, or the Modern Galatea: Victor Frankenstein’s bride discovers more than his horrific experiments on her wedding day.

Book Links:

Xchyler Publishing:  http://www.xchylerpublishing.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CFT5658/

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mechanized-masterpieces-anika-arrington/1115181302 (you can read the book’s Forward and a part of a sample story, Tropic of Cancer by Neve Talbot here.)

A Quote from Our Man Fred:

“As they walked, it seemed almost every building had some similar contrivance as decoration, adorning the street in a cacophony of clangs, bangs and whirs. The street’s surroundings danced with steam and smoke, the scent of oil and grease its perfume.”

Bio:

A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home.  The youngest in a family of seven children, she has always had an overly creative mind and an active imagination. She is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, sword collecting, and oil painting as a hobby.

Ms. Stewart is an indie author with several published novellas and story collections in the dark fantasy or horror genres, with a few side trips into poetry and non-fiction. She has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.

Learn more about A.F. Stewart at http://afstewartblog.blogspot.ca/

The mePhone by Boris Glikman

The mePhone illustration by Michael Cheval

Illustration by Michael Cheval

One of the best things about being on Facebook is the opportunity to get to know some really talented people. One of those gifted ones, is writer & poet Boris Glikman (from Melbourne, AU) who has graciously allowed me to share some of his quirky, fun, short stories here with you.  Here’s the first.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on this piece so please comment!

The mePhone

One day a new type of phone that you could use to call yourself appeared on the market. All one had to do was dial a certain number and one would be connected straight away with oneself. The quality of the reception was so good that the voice on the other end of the line sounded as if it was coming from the very same room.

Inevitably, there was some initial apprehension about using this phone, for no one quite knew what kind of a response they would receive when they rang themselves out of the blue for the very first time. What if their unexpected call was considered to be an impertinent invasion of privacy?

Eventually, these fears subsided as most found that they were greeted with warmth and enthusiasm and their calls were seen as a pleasant surprise. Talking with yourself was just like talking with a dear friend you haven’t seen for a long time and conversation flowed easily.

People rushed to purchase this new invention, which was marketed under the brand name of “mePhone”. Suppliers could not keep up with the demand and there were ugly scenes as customers fought amongst themselves for the last available mePhone.

For mePhone to work properly certain rules had to be followed, and these were set out in the Owner’s Manual. First, the reception only worked in particular areas, access to which required an extra fee. Second, there was a strict time limit on how long you could spend speaking to yourself. And third, when using the mePhone, one had to wear special, rather cumbersome apparel that was sold separately from the phone. Also, owing to the technical complexities involved in establishing a connection, the cost of a call was outrageously expensive, although some enterprising phone companies, hoping to capitalise on the popularity of the mePhone, for a while only charged it at a local call rate.

However, these inconveniences were more than outweighed by the benefits you gained from having a good chat with yourself, for no one had ever had the time to stop and take a good, honest look at their lives. Everyone was always rushing about, preoccupied with the mundane details of existence, trying to silence the nagging question of whether they were happy with their lives and if they were being true to their inner selves.

And so it was an enlightening experience to be able to have a deep and meaningful talk with oneself. The users of the mePhone could now catch up with all the things in their lives they had never had the chance to think about before, to find out the vital news that fell by the wayside as they were speeding along the road of life.

People found that talking with yourself was a lot like talking to an old confidant, with whom the most intimate matters could be discussed. Not infrequently tears were shed as truths one had been hiding from oneself for many years were conveyed in blunt and forthright terms. Conversations gained a confessional aspect as darkest secrets known only to oneself were divulged openly over the phone lines. Quite often, surprises were lying in store as people discovered what they were actually feeling inside. At other times, the voice on the other end of the line would remind you of your long-neglected dreams, of desires and needs you had suppressed for far too long.

Many found out they weren’t really happy in their places of employment. Some realised they had fallen out of love a long time ago. Others saw for the first time that they had deluded themselves as well as others into believing they had reached fulfilment, regardless of how they actually felt inside. Quite a few recognised that they had become so comfortable with being miserable and disenchanted that they shrank back in fear when contentment appeared to be within easy reach.

The world became a better, happier place because of the mePhone as people at last began to be true to their own selves, for they knew they could no longer get away with lying to themselves. The way life had been before the mePhone was just a distant, faded memory and no person could imagine ever being without one.

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

Book Review
Title: The Map Of Time
Author:  Felix J. Palma
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Released: June 27, 2011
Pages: 624
ISBN-10: 1439167397
ISBN-13: 978-1439167397
Stars:  4.0

I recall that The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma was a very fun Sci-Fi/Adventure read, filled with fascinating concepts, but to be honest I’m so behind in my book reviews that I have read six other books since this one, so I will do my best to reiterate my opinion of Palma’s now.

Originally, Felix J. Palma’s novel was printed in Spanish as he is a celebrated and critically acclaimed author in Spain.  Simon & Schuster Canada graciously provided me with an advanced reading copy of the translated edition and I must apologize to them for not writing a review of it in a timely fashion.  Life and work do often get in the way of hobbies.

Felix J. Palma was inspired to write this novel when he re-read The Time Machine by one of his favourite writers, H.G. Wells, and so great was his inspiration that he made Wells a character in The Map of Time, along with authors Bram Stoker and Henry James.  He set the story in 19th century Victorian London (at the time the largest city on earth) beginning with the horrific reign of Jack the Ripper who is also a character, and also included an interlude with Joseph (a.k.a. John) Merrick, the Elephant Man.  This is one of the main reasons why I found the book so intriguing.  It is set during a time in history that I find very interesting as so much new technology was being born during the Industrial Revolution and some of the greatest scientific thinkers of all time were inventing their greatest and most life-changing inventions.

Palma managed to get into the head of H.G. Wells and wrote a multi-dimensional character in him that rings entirely true within the context of a fictional story that deals with love, predestination, greed, jealousy and revenge, and also speaks to the very nature of time.

The Map of Time is presented by a narrator (who I envision as a man not unlike the narrator in The Rocky Horror Picture Show) who speaks directly to the reader and makes an appearance from time to time, including at the beginning of each part of the novel (of which there are three), to do a little narrative juggling and make sure that we understand the author’s intentions for his storyline.

The story begins with the introduction of young noble Andrew Harrington who is still reeling, eight years later, from the murder of his beloved prostitute girlfriend Marie Kelly, at the hands of Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel.  Andrew wants to die but his cousin Charles decides he must intervene and give Andrew a reason to keep living.  Charles gives Andrew a copy of The Time Machine by H.G. Wells which he doesn’t read and then later introduces him to the sinister Gilliam Murray, the creator of Murray’s Time Travel, a business that has become a hit with London’s upper class as it professes to transport its patrons to the year 2000 where they can watch a re-enactment of the cataclysmic battle between the brave Captain Derek Shackleton and the evil automaton Solomon that has taken over the world.  Charles is convinced that if he can get Murray to send Andrew back in time to the exact night of his beloved’s murder that he will be able to prevent Jack the Ripper from killing her.

Murray deflates the Harringtons’ balloons by explaining that his time machine can only travel to the year 2000 and he cannot help them.  So Charles decides to seek out H.G. Wells, who must have invented a time machine that could travel to any year, to see if he can.

Part Two introduces Claire Haggerty, a young woman of means who yearns for love and adventure and who is not content with her lot in life, but rather wishes that she was born in another era.  Claire and her friend Lucy have decided to take Murray’s Time Travel trip and while Claire is in the year 2000, she accidentally meets the forbidden Captain Derek Shackleton who she falls in love with at first sight.  This, of course, causes serious problems for both of them.

In Part Three, Inspector Colin Garrett of Scotland Yard (imagine Johnny Depp’s character in Sleepy Hollow) battles with his weak stomach to try to find the killer of a corpse found in Marylebone – a corpse which just happens to sport a ghastly wound that could have only been inflicted by the weapon he had seen Captain Derek Shackleton wielding in the year 2000 during his visit there.

The “Map of Time” ponders the ways our minds can create our own truths, denying what we don’t want to know or see, believing what we most wish to be true. And by making Wells the fulcrum, the book also becomes a wonderful meta-fiction, commenting on the act of writing itself, and how fiction can shape and alter our lives. ~ Sarah Willis

This is extremely satisfying storytelling even though it does go on a bit in places (the novel is over 600 pages).  Palma deftly weaves the tales of all of his remarkable characters in a seamless plot line that will keep you turning page after page long into the night when you should have turned out the lights.  Palma’s writing is so good that H.G. Wells, himself, would have been proud.