Tony-Paul de Vissage

Thanks for being my guest,  Tony-Paul de Vissage. Please tell your readers why you wrote Dark God Descending

It’s a staple of the SyFy Channel and late night horror movies dating back decades…the lost city in the jungle, stumbled upon by a safari of scientists…they take away an object sacred to the inhabitants.  In doing so, they bring a curse upon themselves in particular and Mankind in general as the embodiment of the sacred object brings the wrath of the gods upon the wrongdoers…the hero struggles to save his friends, perhaps return the sacred object to its home…various minor characters are killed before the inevitable happy ending flashes upon the screen.

I wanted my story to be something more, and something different. I made two heroes, one mortal, one not. Tucker, the mortal one, is a graduate student wanting nothing more than to graduate and marry his girl.  Semris, the immortal one, is a curious demon who wants to know what exists outside his jungle kingdom. One gets his wish, the other doesn’t, but both will begin a relationship that will last through many years to come. For the stolen sacred object, I substituted Semris himself. What thing could be more sacred to a people than the object of their worship, their emperor?

Dark God Descending is a vampire story but it’s one, I hope, with an enjoyable twist.  It’s also a story of friendship.

The twist?  Having Semris not be a creature of terror and fear to those he meets but having them see him as a person, someone they like and want to help.  At this point, Semris has no desire to punish anyone or bring down the Mayan gods’ wrath on anybody.  He simply wants to go home. It’s the assistance he receives from humans on that journey home that makes him see how good people can be, while his captors also show him Mankind’s dark side. In our world, Semris learns of love and loss, and his arrival back in his jungle kingdom brings about the punishment of those who kidnapped him, a retribution that is both just and at the same time horribly ironic.

Dark God Descending is the story of two men, separated by thousands of years, thrown together by unbelievable circumstance; it is the story of their friendship and what is involved in accepting what Fate has dealt them.

About the Author:

A writer of French Huguenot extraction, one of Tony-Paul de Vissage’s first movie memories were of being six years old, viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula’s Daughter on television, and being scared sleepless–and that may explain a lifelong interest in vampires.  

He now pays back his very permissive parents by writing about vampires.

Blurb:

All grad student James Tucker Upchurch wanted was to earn summer credit on an archaeological dig to Central America…and to marry his fiancée. All Semris wanted was to escape the monotony of a millennia-old life, and the burdens the son of the Mayan God of Death, have placed upon him.

For five thousand years, the misplaced Dark Lords of Hell have been trapped in ourworld, ruling the Mayan city of Nikte-Uaxac. While civilizations rise and fall, they and their subjects remain unchanged, until Twenty-first Century intruders appear, stealing from them their most precious possession, the Emperor himself…

Tuck never expected to lose his girl to a demon nor to be given immortality, and Semris never thought he’d experience mortal love, but when the current world meets a more ancient one, everything and everyone they know will be changed.

Forever.

Excerpt:

Tuck walked over to the cage. As far as he could tell, Semris hadn’t moved. 

Oh, God, did that last shot kill him? 

When he saw the slow rise and fall of the bare chest, he felt abrupt relief. He also saw the golden amulet, recognizing it as the twin of the one that had started all this unpleasantness in the first place.

The fruit hadn’t been touched, was rapidly darkening, the sweet, overripe smell permeating the cellar, attracting flies. How the Hell had they gotten in here, anyway? Several big bluebottles were buzzing around inside the cell, hovering over the peaches, a couple crawling along the edges of the plate. One was floating in the water glass, wings fluttering and making little splashes.

Tuck knelt and opened the little flap, reaching inside to remove the glass. It happened. so fast he didn’t even realize Semris had moved until he felt the iron grip upon his wrist, saw the fangs drop and the dark head covering his hand.

He screamed as twin razor slashes struck through his wrist…knowing no one could hear, struggled desperately to get away. Frantic, disbelieving thoughts whirling through his mind. 

Oh, God, this is why he didn’t eat the fruit. He’s a vampire! Sweet Jesus, he’s going to kill me! Help someone, help me! Why should they? I didn’t help him.

The pain went away, his arm numb from wrist to fingertips. He knelt on the floor, watching the pale body crouched so near he could have reached out and touched his shoulder…his bare, wingless shoulder. Where did his wings go? What happened to them? All he could do was watch those shoulders heave with the strength of each deep swallow, feeling his life ebb away, and a vague surprise that it didn’t hurt at all.

Eyes rolling up, Tuck gave a little sigh and collapsed against the bars. He was barely conscious as he saw Semris raise his head and release his arm. In spite of being only slightly aware, he felt a stab of surprise as the quiet voice whispered, “Gracias. Gracias por su sangre.”

He’s thanking me? Thanking me for letting him kill me?

With an effort, he made himself withdraw his wounded arm, cradling it against his chest with his other hand. Forcing his eyes open, he stared at his wrist, fighting the wave of blackness floating before his eyes. There was no bloody ripped-away flesh as he’d imagined, only four deep punctures. Two of the five little veins had been pierced, but the wounds were clean and already clotting. Tuck forced himself to take a deep breath, then let it out, and repeated the procedure. 

Keep breathing! Don’t pass out. He might decide to have a second helping.

“I took too much. I am sorry. I was too hungry.”

There was such concern in Semris’ voice that Tuck found himself replying, “That’s all right. I-if I’d known, I… Oh, God, what am I saying?” He fell silent, feeling a bout of hysteria galloping toward him. 

Something was thrust into his hand. One of the peaches. Semris’ hand, between the bars, holding it out to him. 

Aqui. Come. Pronto.”

So he took the peach and bit into it, choking slightly as the rich, sweet juice slid down his throat, but forced himself to keep chewing and swallowing. As the fruit sugar hit his stomach, he began to feel better.

“That was good.” With a sigh, he tossed the peach pit aside. 

Through the bars, hands helped him to his feet. He leaned against the door, hanging onto it to keep his balance as dizziness flooded back. He looked up, meeting Semris’ green eyes, startled at the concern in them.

“Again, I am sorry. It has been so long since I have had the living wine.”

Living wine…what a beautiful way to describe it.  Tuck still felt a little groggy, wondered if he was now under the vampire thrall. He decided to find out. 

“Am I your minion now?”

“Why would you think that?” Semris sounded genuinely puzzled.

“Well, you’ve taken my blood. Generally, when a vampire—”

Vampiro! Donde?” Semris looked around quickly, arms crossing over his throat in a protective gesture.

You.” Tuck answered, feeling he’d made a mistake. “Aren’t you a vampire?”

“Of course not!” The answer was disdainful that Tuck might mistake him for such a vile creature. “I am a Dark Lord. Un demonio.” The pale chin lifted proudly. “Los vampiros are creatures accursed.”

Tuck thought that over. “And you’re not?

“No.” Semris shook his head, the dark hair swinging. “I am not.”

Tuck realized he must be feeling better, to be able to marvel at the absurdity of this conversation.

Dark God Descending is published by Class Act Books and is available from:

Publisher’s website: http://classactbooks.com/cat-romance/cat-romance-paranormal/dark-god-descending-102013-04-29-03-43-48-detail

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dark-God-Descending-Tony-Paul-Vissage-ebook/dp/B00GRL7GL2/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dark-God-Descending-Tony-Paul-Vissage-ebook/dp/B00GRL7GL2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480693746&sr=8-1&keywords=dark+god+descending

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-god-descending-tony-paul-de-vissage/1124987279?ean=2940153795195

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/674095

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Robb T. White with My Dangerous Women: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Please welcome Robb T. White, the author of   My Dangerous Women:  The Good, the Bad, the Ugly. Why did you write this story?

I can say it was a dozen inspirations rather than a single one because each story in the collection was its own inspiration at some point in my writing past—that is, all the stories either depend on a woman’s narrative point of view or demand the woman be the antagonist—meaning here, be the criminal, the killer, the betrayer, or the deceiver who must scheme her way to some goal, a bad one naturally and one that often results in some husband, boyfriend, or other winding up in jail, on trial, incapacitated, or deader than Julius Caesar by the end of the tale. Frankly, all my crime stories, regardless of male or female characters, fall into two possibilities:  somebody is betraying somebody or someone is getting revenge on someone. I didn’t write Dangerous Women so much as put together what I had already done.  I had the pleasant task of choosing those stories that emphasized women in the roles of betrayer or betrayed—without having to do anything other than choose the order of presentation. I should add, the good fortune to secure the approval of Anita York of Class Act Books. To get at the “why write about them” part, I think dividing these women into three categories will best answer the question.    

Here is the first class, which I’m calling “The Good”:  Regina Frontanetta, a prizefighter and gutsy private eye; Sandy Biggers, a reformed crack whore and thief (my sole saint in the collection); Natalie Sparks, a resilient 17-year-old runaway and paint huffer.  Although their “goodness” is relative to their stories, these female characters all do things that transcend their flaws (I think) or redeem them, which makes them interesting as people.  My second class of women is “The Bad,” and the worst of this group, for me, is Francie of “Criss-Cross, Double-Cross” for she’s not only a spoiled girl who wants the narrator to kill her parents but she’s pure malevolence; two “trophy wives” make the list—namely, one in “Blackmail Is My Business” and the other in “Her Ticket to Heaven,” both for sheer cunning and duplicitous contempt for their husbands, albeit deserved. Martina Brulet from “A Pack of Lies” is another who aspires to be here for the simple reason (s)he doesn’t have to engage in attempted murder for self-preservation because she’s already achieved her goal.  Perhaps the least “ugly” of the pack are the twins Bella and Donna in “The Birthmark” and then because nobody dies from their clever machinations with the gullible narrator. 

The “best” ofThe Ugly” category includes a couple more wives—first, Bobbie, the lap dancer from “My Gypsy Girl from Bluefield” because she plays her loving husband like a fiddle from the git-go and “Diana” from her named story for a similar reason.  The latter character, by the way, was inspired by a true-crime show in which the wife plotted to murder her husband long in advance by getting herself into tip-top physical condition so that she could lift his dead weight right after committing the murder. One I can’t fit into any category above is Dawn from “Dawn Hunting,” although she’s a spree killer unlike the solo murderers of the other stories.  That’s because I like her reason for the mayhem inflicted in her story on her cheating hubby and his smug pals. In sum, I like women, fictionally speaking, who can dish it out as well as men. Maybe that’s a throwback to my horror-film-watching youth in which every female victim in every movie I ever saw always tripped when the bad guy was chasing her. I wanted to write about women who can run with wolves and not trip. 

About the Author:

Under the names Terry White, Robert White, and Robb T. White, Robert White is the author of numerous short stories and hardboiled detective novels.  A lifelong reader of crime fiction, he published his first story in Gary Lovisi’s Hardboiled magazine. Since then, he has published several dozen crime stories, and a collection of mainstre

am stories in 2013. An ebook crime novel, won the New Rivers Electronic Book Competition in 2014.  His collection of crime stories featuring woman narrators and female characters is Dangerous Women:  Stories of Crime, Mystery, and Mayhem, published by Class Act Books in 2017.  

White was born, raised, and continues to live in Ashtabula, Ohio.

More about Robb at:

http://tomhaftmann.wixsite.com/robbtwhite 

https://www.amazon.com/Robert-White/e/B001JP338Q

Blurb:

Weaker sex?  Not hardly!

The female is definitely deadlier than the mail.  Short stories about ladies who can hold their own.

Excerpt:

Be careful what you wish for, Regina.

Her mother’s words. Sometimes she could hear her mother’s voice in the house.

The Vindicator piece on Bodycomb’s death was two paragraphs. 

He was found floating in Lake Milton, a popular summer resort area for fisherman seventeen miles east of Austintown just off the Interstate 80 overpass. Shot by a small-caliber weapon in the back of the head. The important information was in the second paragraph: Bodycomb, it noted, was running a dog-fighting network among three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia for a loose-knit West Virginia crime family connected to the Pittsburgh LaRizzo family. 

Damn you, Leo. 

She was blowing through caution lights, ignoring the honking of cars, as she beelined for the office on Market.

Like a script from a cheap thriller, he was there, wearing the same clothes and unshaven, big jowls dark with stubble, pong of body odor in the overheated single room.

“You promised me full disclosure, total honesty,” she said.

She threw the paper across his desk.

“Here it is in case you missed it.”

Be calm, Regina, she told herself. She wasn’t going to lose her temper and a new job in that order.

“I did and I meant it, Baby,” Leo said.

He glanced at the paper sideways and pushed it back to her. He’d obviously read it.

“You asked me—no, you demanded I call somebody. I did,” he said.

He disgusted her with those wagging jowls and big stomach. She noticed his belt was undone and a patch of curly belly hair exposed. 

Probably jerking off in here, the freak.

“I suppose you’ll tell me when the mood strikes.”

“I meant the second case—your next case,” Leo said. “Full disclosure, just like you want.”

Her indignation petered out at the prospect. “So tell me about it,” she said.

Bodycomb was moving in on Donnie Bracca’s territory with his dog-fighting, Leo said.

“He can kill all the dogs he wants in West Virginia,” Leo said. “But Donnie B. controls gambling around here.”

“Donnie Bracca was your real client all the time,” Baby said.

“It’s like this, kid. They don’t blow each other up in cars no more. Gentlemen’s agreements, all nice and polite. But rules have to be followed. Bodycomb went rogue.”

She bit back a retort: You mean, like your own father?

Leo went on, waxing large, a hopeless Mafioso lover, although a real mafia man, a made man, could see Leo couldn’t be trusted. But even the Aryan Brotherhood used outside associates to get things done. Leo could be useful if you couldn’t buy a cop or scare off an investigative reporter snooping in shady politics or business deals.

She didn’t feel bad about Bodycomb’s death. After all, she’d wanted to kill the guy herself.

“Damn it, Leo,” she said. “You should have told me this in the beginning.”Baby moved in the direction Bodycomb’s vehicle had taken. After A couple of hundred yards through meadow grass up to her knees, she stopped and listened. Moving on, she dodged stunted bushes that popped up out of nowhere to snag her clothing. The foliage grew less dense. She found the parallel ruts of the Road Runner’s tracks and kept moving, straining her eyes to see light ahead. If Bodycomb was hiding assets from his soon-to-be ex-wife, he was taking a lot of trouble over it. 

After five minutes of faster walking in the grooves, she heard barking coming from the right. She saw the first glimmer of light in the distance. The terrain was sparse but small slopes refracted the light source so it appeared and disappeared with every rise of the ground. A single dog barking became two, then three and finally a pack. Beneath their howls, men’s voices. 

When she got close enough to make out words, she lay flat on her belly and put the binoculars on a cluster of men beside a ramshackle barn surrounded by cages of dogs in the beds of trucks beside a squared string of light bulbs a dozen feet from the ground. It looked like a crude boxing ring for backyard brawlers. 

Its purpose became clear in the next few minutes. It was a dog-fighting pit.

Buy Link:

Publisher’s website (for paperback): http://www.classactbooks.com/component/virtuemart/cat-murder-mystery-suspense/dangerous-women-8472017-10-14-23-36-05-detail?Itemid=0

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076GCNMQ5/

Icy Stone Blackstone’s inspiration for Gypsy Charm

Please welcome Icy Snow Blackstone to Barbara Edwards Comments. Tell your readers why you wrote Gypsy Charm.
My inspiration for my novelette Gypsy Charm was my cat Thibault Minuet. I wanted to do a story about a cat but couldn’t figure out how to get started, so I watched my feline domestic companion for clues on how to begin. He wasn’t much help; all he did was lounge around on the window sills, or saunter silently through the house in that languid,
miniature panther stalk, while I talked to him about anything and everything as I went about my work. Somehow, through my “conversations with Thibault,” I realized how Gypsy Charm should begin…with a girl talking to her cat.
I would write a story about this young lady and her cat, a black cat, who was
companionable and lovable, and too human when it came to his mistress. I’d have her talk to him as people do their pets, but he’d understand, really understand, and in his own catly way, be determined to protect his owner from everyone, even herself. Why did he do this? Not because he was simply a loyal pet, though he’s definitely that, but because he’s under a spell and protecting Lisa is part of the way he will free himself.
After that, it was easy. Tomas the cat took on a furry, heroic shape. The gypsy brothers and their grandmother, and Lisa and her roommate began to emerge as real people. It was fun creating these characters and telling the story of Lisa’s adventure with the gypsies. As for the gypsy charm? There are two in the story…the one Mrs. Gray gives Lisa in
payment for her kindness, and the one placed upon Tomas for being such as a smarty cat.
Blurb: Gypsy Charm is the tale of Lisa Carpenter’s encounter with an old gypsy woman,
the giving of a wish charm, and a black cat. Unknown to our heroine, the cat has an
agenda all his own, and unknown to either of them, so does the old gypsy woman.
Ecverpt:
“These my grandsons. Isaac—” Mrs. Lee nodded at the first one as he
straightened. “—and David.”
David’s movements were so smooth and sleek Lisa was reminded of a leopard
stalking across a jungle glade. A glossy, golden-coated leopard, slinking low to the
ground. That thought sent a quiver through her. He held out a large but well-shaped
hand, saying grudgingly, “H’lo.”
“Hi.” She nodded at Isaac, shook the hand David offered her. He squeezed it a
moment, grip very warm as it tightened gently before he released it. Lisa took a slow,
deep breath. The tips of her fingers tingled. She shook them slightly.
“And…” Mrs. Lee was still talking. “…Tomas.” She looked around. “Where’s
Tomas? Tomasso!”
  • Two pointed ears and a small head covered in short silky fur peeped from under
    the sofa’s valance. A black cat emerged, stretched, and leaped onto the arm of the sofa
    with incredible grace and an inquisitive yowl.
    “This Tomas.” Mrs. Lee waved an introductory hand. “My machka.
    The cat poised itself on the armrest, leaning toward Lisa, gold-green eyes
    regarding her gravely. His right paw came up.
    “Oh, he’s beautiful!” Lisa placed her hand under the cat’s paw. It was soft,
    smooth and as warm as David’s hand had been. It pressed briefly against her fingers,
    claws grazing gently before it withdrew. With a second, softer yowl, Tomas leaped from
    the arm and settled himself in her lap. He blinked and regarded Lisa solemnly.
    “You like cats?” Mrs. Lee asked.
    “I love them,” Lisa assured her. “And this one is so…so…”
    “Ain’t he, though?” David muttered. Lisa wondered if he ever spoke in anything other than a low growl.
    “He likes to think he’s really macho,” Isaac laughed. “A real ladies’ man…uh, cat.” He flicked a finger at the cat’s ears. Tomas dodged, cocking his head to look at Isaac. “Right, Tomasso?”
    “I’d have to agree,” Lisa answered, reaching out and stroking the furry head.
    Tomas pushed against her hand. “He’s a very handsome dude.”
    David smiled and the two brothers looked at each other. They seemed to be
    sharing a private joke, which Tomas didn’t appear to appreciate. Growling softly, he bestowed a surprising glare upon the two.
    Suddenly, they all seemed to be staring at her. Even the cat. Four pairs of eyes riveted on Lisa. Waiting for her to drink her tea.
    Lisa began to feel uneasy. A startling panic twisted in her stomach as she realized she was alone in a van with three strangers, two of whom were very large and muscular and standing between her and the door. And Mrs. Lee— She might be old but that walking stick of hers could be a very deadly weapon.
    Was this a mistake? Undoubtedly. People were always saying she was too
    friendly for her own good.
    All together, they smiled. Tomas purred loudly, claws kneading at her thighs.
    “Well! Since you’re safe and sound now—” Putting down the cup, Lisa set the cat aside and stood up. For a moment, his claws clung to her skirt. Hoping she didn’t sound frightened and certain she failed, she extricated Tomas, grimacing slightly at the single snag his claws made in her new skirt, then shot a pretend glance at her watch as she went on, “Guess I’d better be on my way. I’ve people waiting for me and they’ll be
    worrying.”
    Liar. Her housemate wouldn’t be home for another two hours.
    She aimed herself for the door behind the two young men. Neither moved. The twisting inside grew tighter. Lisa stopped.
    “Isaac,” Mrs. Lee called softly, and gestured.
    He took a step forward, raising one arm.
    Lisa stumbled backward, her own raised, preparing to ward off a blow, then
    realized he was holding out his left arm to his grandmother. Around his wrist was a small gold chain with tiny disks dangling from it.
  • “Here.” With a twist of her fingers, Mrs. Lee pulled one disk free. She held it out to Lisa. “You take. For helping me.”
    “I couldn’t—”
    “You take. Otherwise I owe you.” Taking Lisa’s hand, she placed the object on her palm, closing her fingers around it. “Is wish-charm.”
    “Wish-charm? What’s that?” It looked like a small gold coin but the
    inscription… She’d never seen symbols like those before. Are they Romanes?
    “Good for one special wish. Baksheesh. You keep safe. Use carefully. Don’t
    waste on pepperoni pizza!” Mrs. Lee shook her finger and laughed.
    “I won’t.” Lisa laughed, too, her fear disappearing. “I promise.” She studied the charm, feeling a strange gratitude. “It’s beautiful. Thank you, Mrs. Lee.”
    This time when she turned toward the door, Isaac and David moved aside. In a moment, she was outside, down the makeshift steps and at her car. When Lisa climbed into the Civic, and waved, they raised their hands and waved back.
    As the car drove away, however, Mrs. Lee said, “A good girl, but too trusting. She needs protector.”
    “She’s pretty. I like her.” David straightened, adding “For a gaje, I mean.” He and Isaac glanced at each other and then at their Grandmother. “So, Gram, which one of us will it be?”
    She looked at Tomas.
    “Oh, Gram, no.” The protest was half-hearted, as if he knew it was no use to argue.
    The cat was crouching on the sofa. He looked at Mrs. Lee and then at the door through which Lisa had gone, tail twitching angrily. He shook his head as if seconding David’s protest.
    “You heard me,” Mrs. Lee said. Tomas transferred his gaze back to her. He
    didn’t move. “Go!”
    “You heard Gram,” Isaac prompted.
    Tomas stayed there a moment longer, giving a single grrrwl of protest before leaping to the floor. David pushed the door open and Tomas leaped out. Isaac came to stand beside his brother. “Good luck, Bro. I mean it.”
    The cat looked in the direction the car had vanished. After a moment’s hesitation, he threw a strident yowl back at the two men standing in the door before starting down the street with a graceful, long-legged lope.
    They waited until his small figure disappeared around the bend in the road before going back inside.
    “Still don’t see why Tomas gets to have all the fun,” David grumbled.
    “You call that fun?” Issac elbowed his brother in the ribs. “Would you like to change places with him?”
    “What do you think?”
    “I think you’d better shut up.” Isaac pulled the camper door shut and locked it.

    Buy Links:

    Paperback exclusively from the publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/cat
    romance/catfantasy/gypsy-charm21-detail
    Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-CharmIcy-Snow-Blackstone
    ebook/dp/B01JNV7X92/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524754110&sr=8-
    1&keywords=Gyps
    About the Author:
    Icy Snow Blackstone was born in 1802, in northern Georgia where her father, the Reverend John Blackstone, was prominent in local politics. She married a minister, raised seven children, and lived there all her life.
    Two hundred and five years later, her great-great-great-great-granddaughter began using her name as a pseudonym for her romance novels. The present Icy Snow Blackstone (aka author Toni V. Sweeney) lives far from her Southern roots in Lancaster County,
    Nebraska, where she continues to write romances.
    As of 2017, Icy Snow has eleven novels published by Class Act Books. Her
    contemporary romance, Tuesday’s Child, was given the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers Choice award for Best Contemporary Novel of 2014. A SciFi romance,
    Earthman’s Bride and Vietnam-era romance Jericho Road, have also received awards.
    She is also the author of Jericho Road, Bargain with Lucifer, Brother Devil, and Gypsy
    Charm, romances all set in the South, as well as the paranormal romance The Irish
    Lady’s Spanish Lover.
    Learn More about Icy Snow at: http://www.classactbooks.com/our-
    authors/manufacturers/icy-snow-blackstone

My guest Michael D. Smith author of CommWealth

Please welcome my guest, Michael D. Smith

Why I Wrote CommWealth, by Michael D. Smith

CommWealth sprang from a long, richly detailed dream I had in which the central “I” demonstrates his easy adaptation to a property-less society by demanding electronic gadgets, cars, motorcycles, in fact anything he desires, then hoarding it all in a mansion he’s similarly procured.  He takes the basic premise of this society, the guilt-ridden, involuntary sharing of everything, to its extreme when he asserts the right to claim a former girlfriend as his property.  The dream narrator was oddly both me, yet not me; somehow I had a certain psychological distance from the character who became CommWealth’s arrogant, pathetic anti-hero Allan Larsen.

The dream was so clear that the resulting plot for CommWealth flowed easily, allowing for both farce and for serous reflection on our innate emotional and legal attachment to the tens of thousands of objects we own.  I even researched some books on property rights just to feel more familiar with the subject, though I can’t say they had much effect on the plot, which seemed pre-written from the dream.

Another aspect of the novel I wanted to explore, based on my amateur acting experience in college, was its theatrical setting.  The main characters in the novel form an acting troupe called Forensic Squad which eventually becomes the focal point of a suicidal revolution against CommWealth, the name of the governmental sharing system.  The six major characters act their parts in the novel like an ensemble cast in a movie, where accomplished actors divide the plot between them and no one actor has the lead role.  It was satisfying to shift from one character to the next, giving them equal emphasis and letting each’s motivations unfold on stage.

About the Author:

Michael D. Smith was raised in the Northeast and the Chicago area, before moving to Texas to attend Rice University, where he began developing as a writer and visual artist.  In addition to exhibiting and selling paintings and drawings, he’s completed fifteen novels. 

Smith’s writing in both mainstream and science fiction genres uses humor to investigate psychological themes.  On his blog, he explores art and writing processes, and his web site contains further examples of his writing and art. He is currently Technology Librarian for McKinney Public Library in McKinney, Texas.

CommWealth is his first novel published by Class Act Books.

find out more about Michael at:

Website: , www.sortmind.com,

Blog: www. http://blog.sortmind.com/wordpress/

Blurb:

The CommWealth system, has created a society in which there is no legal claim to any kind of private property. Any object from your house to the clothes you’re wearing can be demanded by anyone, to be enjoyed for thirty days before someone else can request it. As actors in the Forensic Squad theatrical troupe attempt to adapt to this chaos, their breaking of the Four Rules sustaining the system, as several members navigate betrayals, double agents, and murder to find themselves leading a suicidal revolution.

Excerpt:

Rule One – You are free to enjoy the chosen object for thirty days. During this period no other person may request it.

Rule Two – The requestor is untouchable for thirty days by the person asked. Attempts at retaliation, such as demanding unusually large quantities from the original requestor after the thirty-day period, carry stiff penalties.

Rule Three – Once you ask somebody for something, you can never ask him or her for anything else again.

Rule Four – You can never ask for the same thing back from the person who got it from you, not even after his or her thirty days of enjoyment.

Allan shivered at the reflection of his black overcoat and his striding legs on the wet sidewalk. Up ahead someone with a DreamPiston Electronics bag opened a shiny red Porsche glistening with thousands of water beads.

“Okay,” Allan said, “I’ll take your car here.”

The mustached little twerp looked up. “Ahhh, crap…”

“C’mon, don’t give me any trouble. Gimme the key.”

“Look, it’s raining. And I just got these MP3 players and the new Fappy tablet—”

“Not my problem. Fork the damn key over.”

“Look, my umbrella’s in the car—can I just get my umbrella so my stuff—”

“Forget it. The umbrella’s part of the car as far as I’m concerned. Anything in the car. Besides, I just lost my umbrella a couple blocks back. I’m soaked.”

“C’mon, I just got this car the other day!”

 “Don’t hand me that. The sticker on the plate says you got it a month and a half ago. You’re overdue, buddy. Now hand me the key.”

“Dammit! Dammit!”

“Got trouble there?” A bright blue City of Linstar police car idled in the rain. “Got a Hoarder there?” a huge officer grinned.

“Uh, no… not at all…” said the twerp. “I just—I just can’t find the key—”

“Yeah, right—you just unlocked the damn car with it,” Allan said, turning to the policeman. “He is giving me a lot of crap about it.”

“C’mon, sir, you know better than that.” The officer’s name tag read BARCLAY.

“Dammit!” the twerp snarled. He separated the Porsche key off his key ring, thrust it at Allan, then spun around and fastened on a man coming down the sidewalk. “Give me that umbrella! Right now!”

“Goddammit…” the man grunted, surrendering his umbrella to the twerp, who grabbed it and hoisted it above his DreamPiston bag.

“We really got the Christmas spirit here, don’t we?” Barclay said.

“Really,” Allan said. “Some people…” He examined the Porsche key in the rain. “Thanks for your help, officer.”

“Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t really necessary. People are basically good, you know. Give ’em time to adjust and all, that’s what I say.”

The twerp leapt into traffic with his new umbrella and his bag, waving his free arm. A little green car skidded to a halt. The twerp ran to the window and pounded on it. “Give me this car! Right now! Damn you!”

“Jesus…” Allan said. “What a bastard!”

Barclay was out of his patrol car in a second, hand on his hand on his holster. “Sir, that’s not the right way to go about it. We need to be respectful. That’s the CommWealth way.”

CommWealth is available at:

Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/component/virtuemart/dystopian/commwealth-6022015-08-14-23-29-50-detail?Itemid=0

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/CommWealth-Michael-D-Smith-ebook/dp/B013YPU5D4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478983628&sr=8-1&keywords=CommWealth

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/commwealth-michael-d-smith/1122537291?ean=2940152097313

SmashWords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/569160

Toni V. Sweeney about the kan Ingan Archives #Series #Sinner

  • Welcome to  the Blog for Barbara Edwards
    Toni V. Sweeney will explain her series.
    One thing about writing about a dynasty—it covers a lot of territory and a whole lot of people.
    When I decided to write a family saga, I took the easy way out. Writing about the rule of the kan Ingans of the Emeraunt Galaxy, I decided to tell only the stories about the beginning and end of that particular reign. Part 1, The Narrative of Riven the Heretic (7 novels) recorded their origins. Part 2, The kan Ingan Archives (8 novels), told of their scandal-laden and inglorious end thirty-one hundred years later.
    Suffice it to say writing a family saga isn’t easy. Whatever is said in the original book has to be maintained in all the others. It can’t be changed unless there’s a very good reason. If a character is taken on an ocean journey by his father and he’s five-years-old at that time, you can’t have another character state dogmatically in another book that he was
    twelve when it happened. Don’t think some eagle-eyed little nit-picker of a reader won’t catch it and promptly fire off an e-mail to your website, pointing this out. Same with spellings. A character’s name has to be spelled the same way throughout; if it’s italicized in one book, keep it consistently italicized in all of them. A person’s character may change, his faith, his philosphy may be converted—indeed, that’s the stuff stories are
    made of because they involve conflict—but unless you state specifically there’s hair dye involved or colored contacts, make certain his blond hair stays blond and his brown eyes brown. (Of course if it’s fantasy, you can totally change his appearance and have a plausible reason.) I always think of Stephen King’s example when he was writing Christine: A specific make of car drove into an alley, a different make of car came out. I did that once myself. Not with cars, but I had a character who was blond, only to
    suddenly become a brunet without explanation (or the use of Clairol for Men.) Thank Goodness for the delete/replace button!
    Family sagas are a lot of work because you have to keep track not only of the characters’ names and physical appearances, but also of their ages, especially if each novel encompasses a number of years. Sometimes it’s easier to make a tangible chart, a familytree or spreadsheet with all the relationships, ages, etc., so it can be referred to from time
    to time. Age plays a very important part in these stories so I had to keep close tabs on how old everyone was and when.
    About the Author:
    Toni V. Sweeney has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a
    decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains.Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone. In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books (US). She is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books and the Paranormal Romance Guild. In 2016, she was named a Professional Reader by netgalley.com. She is an Amazon reviewer, is in the 1% of reviewers for Goodreads, and in 2015 and 2016 was voted one of the Top 10 authors of those years by Preditors & Editors Reader
    Poll. In 2013, the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewer’s Choice voted The kan Ingan  Archives (Part Two of the Arcanian Chronicles) a Special Mention, and the following year, named the individual novels The Man from Cymene, and Space Studs, from the same series two of the Top 8 SF/fantasy novels of 2014.
    As of 2018, Toni currently has 55 novels in print, including 3 series, and 3 trilogies.
    Find out more about Toni:
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tvsweeney
    Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com//e/B002BLQBB8
    Twitter: @ToniVSweeney
    Blurb:
    Aric kan Ingan had it all.
    Pampered and spoiled, he was groomed since the age of twelve to be heir to the throne of Arcanis…until his uncle surprised everyone by falling in love with an Earthwoman.
    Elizabeth Sheffield wanted it all.
    Headstrong and beautiful, she’d never met a man she couldn’t wrap around her little finger…until she met Aric.
    The vengeful former heir and the margrave’s bride are instant enemies, trading insults and threats, until the unexpected happens: They fall in love.
    While Aric and Elizabeth engage in their illicit affair, other forces in the kingdom gather for the more sinister purpose of rebellion and murder…
    …with Aric as the not-so-innocent pawn.
    EXCERPT:
  • On the fourth floor, outside the hallway leading to the royal apartments, Kozlu waited
    for him. The old man looked him up and down disapprovingly, staring at his travel-dusty
    clothes.
    “You couldn’t take time to change?”
    “Why should I? I’m only going to see my uncle.” His tone bordered on disrespect for
    the man who’d been his tutor as he’d been the margrave’s.
    “Aric, it’s more than that and you know it.” Kozlu’s reply held the knowledge he was speaking to someone who had no intention of listening. He started up the stairs, not
    looking to see if Aric followed.
    So it’s like that, is it? Already dispensing with respect since I’m no longer the heir.
    “I suppose you want me to return to my rooms and dress in my most formal uniform,
    complete with metals and insigne, before I meet the creature?” He saw Kozlu’s face
    darken. “Why don’t I go back to the barracks and rout all the Black Shields, and have
    them mount a dress parade in the courtyard?”
    “Lower your voice.” Kozlu nodded toward the guards on the landing below.
    Realizing how close he was to letting his anger take over, Aric took a deep breath.
    “You’ve been drinking, haven’t you?” Kozlu frowned.
    “As much as possible,” he admitted. “It seemed the most appropriate thing to do.”
    “You’d best calm yourself a little,” the elder suggestion. “You look as if you could
    kill.”
    “If I thought I could get away with it, I might,” he muttered. As Kozlu looked around
    at him sharply, he said hastily, “Don’t worry. I’ll behave myself.”
    They started climbing again.
    “You may as well accept what’s happened,” Kozlu went on. “The council has.”
    “The council isn’t losing anything.” Aric’s answer was sullen. “I was taken from my
    mother to be my uncle’s heir. For eight years, it’s been drilled into me how Arcanis will
    someday be mine, and now…to lose it to some mongrel Milky?” He shook his head. “I
    thought my uncle had more pride in our family. Even someone from one of the other
    planets—Gataeus, Scylla, even Nereis—would be better than a near-barbarian.”
    “I think it’s you who’ve too much pride, Aric,” the old man answered quietly.
    “Someday, you’ll find yourself in the dust because of it.”
    Aric looked rebellious and didn’t answer.
    They reached the fifth landing, coming around a dark corner into the archway opening onto one of the stone-balustraded terraces.
    Two people sat on a stone bench set in an arrangement of flower-filled urns
    surrounding a javancia tree, its thick branches offering protection from the ocean’s wind and the morning sun. One was obviously his uncle, and the other was…
    She.
    “Lord Aric, sire.” Kozlu bowed and backed out of his uncle’s presence, leaving him alone in the entranceway. For the barest moment, Aric was tempted to run after the old man, away from the unpleasantness awaiting him. Briefly, he regretted that third glass of brandy.

Rick McQiston describes his book ‘Eat the World’

Please welcome Rick MCQuiston, author of Eat the World to Barbara Edwards Comments. Tell our readers why you wrote this story.

I wrote “Eat the World” because of my love for Mackinac City and Mackinac Isle. I felt the history, architecture, and overall isolation that an island offers was perfect for a horror story. 

The first time I visited the area I became interested with the layout. I still remember taking  copious notes (much to the annoyance of my wife) for the book. The city skirts along the lower mainland, wrapping around the natural slope of the peninsula and offering the perfect spot to start the story. It seemed natural to me to move the protagonists over to the island then, using the isolation there (after all, Mackinac Island is surrounded by deep water) to create an ominous feeling. 

From there, it wasn’t difficult (relatively speaking) to incorporate elements from each of the characters into the overall theme of working together to survive supernatural horror. 

About the Author:

Rick McQuiston is a 49-year-old father of two who loves anything horror-related. He’s had nearly 400 publications so far, and written five novels, ten anthologies, one book of novellas, and edited an anthology of Michigan authors. 

Rick is also a guest author each year at Memphis Junior High School.  

He’s currently working on his sixth novel.

More about Rick at:

Publisher’s website: www.classactbooks.com

Author’s website: www.many-midnights.com

Blurb for Eat the World:

In picturesque Mackinac a growing army of rats are beginning to seep into the community of tourists. They seemingly appear out of nowhere, and it is up to ordinary people to gather their courage and battle the hordes.

But there is something more frightening beneath the surface, something that was born from the accumulated depths of Earth’s creatures, something that can threaten the entire world.

Excerpt from Eat the World:

The rodent scurried through the narrow channel. It barely managed to squeeze its lengthy bulk into the tight aperture, but by inhaling a deep breath of warm, salty air, it was able to reduce its girth enough to allow it somewhat comfortable passage. A cursory glance to either side after it cleared the opening revealed nothing predatory or dangerous.

The rodent then scrambled into the brush.

In its wake was a vicious, gray-green substance that loosely resembled hydraulic motor oil left in the sun too long. It was thick in consistency, yet still transparent enough to allow the dozens of tiny organisms swirling within it to be seen. It bristled with unnatural life.

The small grass snake slithered through the brush. Its brown, speckled hide gave it perfect camouflage in the wild. It melted into its surroundings, becoming for all intents and purposes, invisible to both predator and prey. It was its natural defense mechanism as well as aiding it with tracking down prey.

The snake’s belly convulsed with hunger. It hadn’t eaten in days and was in danger of starving. It scanned the woods for any sign of movement, anything at all that it could inflict a bite on and swallow whole.

There was no movement whatsoever. Not even a stray beetle or ant scuttled by. The snake was completely alone in the vast wilderness of the island. It laid perfectly still, both to conserve energy and to avoid detection. It sensed that something was watching it from a darkened crevice nearby. Something bigger than it was and undoubtedly just as hungry.

The snake didn’t move a muscle. It hoped that whatever was hidden in the crevice wouldn’t notice it. The strange substance on the ground bristled beneath its body, but it had more pressing matters to be concerned about. Flicking its tongue, the snake tasted the air. Far below, the cold waters of Lake Huron washed up against I-67. Being the only state highway in the US without motorized vehicles, the pristine ribbon of asphalt circled the entire island.

The movement caught the snake’s attention. It swung its conical head in the direction of the sound: the dark crevice. Whatever was watching it had moved. Several quick tongue darts picked up a scent, causing the snake to recoil back into itself. It could defend itself if need be, but if its adversary was larger it would quickly opt for retreat. Self-preservation was perhaps the only instinct that overrode all others, including hunger and the need to mate. When faced with a threat, survival was paramount.

The snake hissed in a feeble effort to ward off its potential adversary. It reared up then to display its size. It did not know if it was larger, or smaller than the other creature, but it was one of the few weapons it possessed.

The rodent poked its pink snout out of the crevice. It sniffed a few times, and satisfied that suitable prey was within striking distance, settled back on its haunches as it prepared to attack.

With a blinding ferocity beyond any member of its species, the huge, bloated rat launched itself out of the crevice and sucked down the too-slow grass snake in one violent swallow.

The reptile never had a chance.

With its hunger temporarily sated, the rat lumbered away into the brush. It left copious amounts of the strange substance behind, leaving a sickly trail leading into the woods.

The substance squirmed with miniscule life.

Buy Links:  

Publisher’s website:  www.classactbooks.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Eat-World-Rick-McQuiston-ebook/dp/B01MY8PU2A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485900821&sr=8-1&keywords=eat+the+world+by+Rick+McQuiston

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/extreader/read/696624

Linda Nightingale presents Four by Moonlight on Barbara Edwards Comments

Please welcome Linda Nightingale with the anthology, ‘Four By Moonlight’. Tell why you wrote this story.

My very favorite poem, and one of my favorite works of literature, is The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes.  It is lyrical enough that it has been recorded many times over. The one I’m thinking of is by

This poem inspired my “Gypsy Ribbons,” which is included in an anthology from Class Act Books, Four by Moonlight.  I wanted to see what the idea of the highwayman, combined with other elements, would become in prose.

Once I read the story on a PodCast.  I had practiced the entire day before the reading, and only stumbled once.  No surprise, I had almost memorized Gypsy Ribbons.  I don’t have a copy of that PodCast or I’d include the link so that you could have a laugh as a South Carolinian with an accent tried to read a story starring British characters.

I often wondered if I could expand the story into a book, but it seemed happy as a short story.  The piece dates back quite a few years, but it has been polished and edited.  I didn’t have to worry about the advent of modern technology.  In the late 1800s, no one had a cell phone!  “Gypsy Ribbons’” setting is the Yorkshire moors, the time period parallel with the American Revolution.

Four by Moonlight also includes a novella, “The Night Before Doomsday,” the tag line to which is “Azazel resisted temptation…until the wrong woman came along.” The story takes a look at the angel Azazel in a different light—not as the demon he is often portrayed.  “Night Before Doomsday” is about the Grigori’s descent to Earth to teach men to survive/thrive after their oust from the Garden of Eden.

One story is very spicy. “The Gate Keeper’s Cottage” bears a warning sign: Enter at your own risk.

The fourth offering is “Star Angel,” a sci-fi romance and is very New Age.  The hero and the heroine are soul mates separated by a dimension.

Come with me on a journey to 1789 with “Gypsy Ribbons.”  Next whistle stop is the Garden of Eden, and on to a plantation outside New Orleans, and finally a rescue in an Idaho potato patch. In Four by Moonlight, no one is exactly what he/she may seem.

Blurb:

An anthology of love in the moonlight…in the paranormal universe.

Gypsy Ribbons – A moonlight ride on the moors and meeting a notorious highwayman will forever change Lady Virginia Darby’s life.

Star Angel – Lucy was stuck in a rut and in an Idaho potato patch. She’d seen him in the corner of her eye—a fleeting glimpse of beauty—now he stood before her in the flesh.

The Night Before Doomsday – All his brothers had succumbed to lust, but Azazel resisted temptation until the wrong woman came along.

The Gate Keeper’s Cottage – Newlywed Meggie Richelieu’s mysterious, phantom lover may be more than anyone, except the plantation housekeeper, suspects.

Excerpt:

Red eyes watched from the grate as she slipped into the cold, empty bed. Simon should have been there to warm her rather than the dying fire. Not pursuing a dangerous dream. Too angry, too miserable to weep, she tossed and turned. The relief of sleep eluded her.

An icy breath whispered through the room. Tory snuggled deeper beneath the goose down covers. Had the weather made up its mind? Was Simon riding in ice and snow? She imagined white flakes in Goliath’s long black mane and on the highwayman’s plush velvet cloak. Poor darling, he would be cold. Tory slowly drifted to sleep unrelated thoughts scrolling in her mind. A soft sound snapped her wide awake. She sat bolt upright, tugging the covers over the breasts.  The room was iceberg cold.  The ghost.

“Not Simon.” She held her breath, ears stained for the horrifying, otherworldly whisper, a warning of imminent death. The sound came again, closer. A slow footstep creeping over the old oaken floor. Tonight, the ghost of Darby Manor wandered its dim corridors.

“No. No.” Tory squeezed her eyes closed and prayed, forgetting she didn’t believe in ghosts.

The footsteps halted. Tory’s heart stopped. She started to cover her ears, refusing to hear. The ghost breathed that heartbreaking sigh at her door.

Shuddering, she slid back under the layers of down. The warmth had no effect on her shivers. She folded into a fetal position.  I’m no longer alone.  Fear chilled her anew.  Though she couldn’t see clearly in the dim light, she knew her breath puffed white clouds in the frigid air. Dread sank its wicked claws into her racing heart.

Buy Links:

Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com  

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M3Q9J8B/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1

Find out more about Linda at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/linda.nightingale.52?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf

Website: http://www.lindanightingale.com

Blog: https://lindanightingale.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4839311.Linda_Nightingale

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lbnightingale1/?etslf=10520&eq=LInda%20Nightingale

Twitter: @LNightingale