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

Author Paul McDermott presents “Spear of Destiny” from Barbara Edwards

Hello Paul McDermott,

Tell our readers why you wrote “Spear of Destiny.”

My current book. The Spear of Destiny, was inspired by a combination of circumstances which were not ‘typical’ of my “general” creative processes. I lived in Denmark for a number of years and had the privilege of meeting people who had been active members of the Danish Resistance Movement (mødstandsbevægelsen). during WW2. I have attempted to redress the balance a little by raising awareness and offering sincere thanks. I’ve kept close to the recorded facts as we know them, but I’ve altered the names: these patriots have earned the right to have their anonymity preserved.

When the Danish billionaire Carsten Ree had the wreck of U-534 refloated and it was installed as a permanent exhibit in Liverpool’s Maritime Museum, the story almost wrote itself. The basis of the story appeared as my NaNo entry in November 2010, the end result of 30 days of madness and strong coffee! 

The Spear of Destiny was a new departure for me. Although it’s based on real events in the closing days of WW2, and I had to make sure I had facts (names, dates etc.) accurate. I’ve kept very close to the recorded facts of the sinking of U-534 but I decided to add the Spear. I did this because of Hitler’s known weakness, superstition. He believes he has found a powerful secret weapon which he can use to turn the War in Germany’s favour. This light drizzle of fantasy in what is essentially an account of historical events is my way of adding an original slant to the yarn

One of the most satisfying things I took from writing The Spear of Destiny was having the opportunity to honour the memory of a number of real people alongside my fictional characters. One such hero is Captain Johnny Walker. Although he only plays a small role in my story, he was almost entirely responsible for the success of the Allies in the Battle of the Atlantic. General consensus is, he literally worked himself to death in the process.

The research was more extensive than I’d needed for my previous fiction work but it was satisfying.

About the Author:

Born in the Year of the Tiger, Paul’s natural curiosity combined with the deep-seated feline need to roam has meant that over the years he’s never been able to call any one place home. His wanderlust has led him from one town to another, and even from one country to another.

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write – my father claims to possess a story I wrote when I was six, which filled 4 standard school exercise books! What I do remember from that time was being told off for doing the Liverpool Echo crossword before he got home from work!” 

While Paul was living in Denmark, he allowed himself to be persuaded to write for a purpose instead of purely for his own amusement. Perhaps it was the catalyst of breathing the same air as Hans Christian Andersen. 

More about Paul at:

www.paulmcdermottbooks.webs.com

www.thewriterschatroom.com

Blurb:

In 1945, U-boat Kapitän Herbert Nollau must deliver a weapon which will turn the war in Germany’s favour. His orders are delivered verbally. There will be no written records… and no witnesses. 

Alone, far from home, hunted by the Danish Resistance and the might of the Allied Forces, he must obey either his final Orders…or the inner voice of his conscience.

Excerpt:

Überlojtnant Herbert Nollau stood with his Zeiss nightglasses glued to his eyes, impervious to the rain whipped across his cheeks by half a gale. This howled almost exactly at ninety degrees to the tide, which had just reached the full but had not yet begun its retreat. His command craft, U-534, sat uneasily at anchor, dipping at bow and stern in the current, yawing appreciably as frequent Force Ten gusts buffeted her broad flanks. Low, heavy rainclouds hunkered closer, seeming to settle on the upper branches of the natural pine forest which spread untamed, unculled, across the low hills of Schleswig-Holstein. 

An identical pair of black Opel staff cars bracketed a canvas bodied Mercedes half-track transport wagon, all three vehicles picking their way carefully along an unmarked country road. The headlights were taped down to the size and shape of a feral cat’s vertical slits, acknowledging the strict rules governing all traffic during the hours of darkness. The road to the harbour just outside Lübeck was neither tarmac’ed nor enhanced with any form of lighting. The drivers were obliged to steer cautiously around every twist, using the gears and brakes more frequently than the accelerator.

“Amateurs!” he thought to himself, as the three sets of headlights crawled slowly closer. 

He blanked the thought as soon as it intruded on his consciousness, forcing himself back into State-approved Wehrmacht thinking, based on purely practical matters directly related to carrying out current instructions, with maximum efficiency, without question. He pulled the collar of his oilskins closer around his throat in a futile attempt to prevent the rain from seeping through, soaking his uniform. Raising his night glasses once more, he cursed the weather, the Wehrmacht and the world in general, feeling more exposed and vulnerable with every minute that passed as he waited for the convoy of lights to crawl closer, carrying the equipment which he had been ordered to collect. It bothered him that he was expected to set sail immediately, and await orders concerning his destination by radio once he had cleared the bay and entered Store Bælt: technically, that section of the North Sea was neutral Danish waters, and if he were to remain on the surface for any length of time in order to receive orders …

As the lights snaked around another pair of curves and began their final descent to the shoreline and the jetty where U534 was waiting, Herbert Nollau realized that he had on board a much more powerful sender/receiver than any other U-boat: in fact, not just one but two radios equipped with the Enigma cryptographic programme had been installed, ostensibly for testing. With a sudden jolt, the deceptively young-looking Überlojtnant realized that this technology was far more sophisticated than that which had previously been regarded as the best in the world: apart from being guaranteed unbreakable as a code, it could also send and receive radio signals without his craft needing to surface.

He shook his head to clear the worst of the pools which had formed in the upturned brim of his sou’wester and made his way down the ladder bolted to the side of the conning tower, aiming to be waiting on the quay before the three vehicles wheezed to a halt. His mechanic’s ear analysed and diagnosed a list of faults he could clearly identify from the laboured chugging of each engine. Furious at this indication of inefficiency, a corner of his mind decided that he would have had the senior officer responsible for each vehicle court-martialled, if the decision had been up to him. In spite of the horrors he had witnessed in three years of naval warfare, he shuddered. His orders, distasteful though they might be, were crystal clear …

Two gaunt, silent shadows slid with simultaneous choreography from the rear seat of each of the Opels: their sleek black trenchcoats almost touched the planks of the jetty, glistening in the starlight as if the officers wearing them had been marching for hours in the rain rather than just stepping out of a warm, dry car. Nollau fired off his most formal salute: the four SS-officers responded with a world-weary, bent-elbow half-salute and pointedly refrained from returning Nollau’s “Heil, Hitler!” One detached himself for a moment and gave a hand-signal to the driver of the canvas-sided truck.  The driver immediately hammered his fist twice on the bulkhead behind his seat. Four soldiers appeared over the tailgate of the wagon and began to manoeuvre something long and heavy out of the cargo space.

Turning to face his command meant that Herbert Nollau had to turn his back on the four staff officers. Somehow he managed to do this with an insolence which stated quite clearly that, as far as he was concerned, they were barely worthy of his contempt.

He placed a small, shrill whistle to his lips and blew, one long (but not overloud) blast. Within ten seconds, the deck was populated by about twenty matelots, standing at ease, who somehow contrived to arrive from nowhere and in total silence. Close to the bows, and just for’ard of ’midships , cables were deployed from two small jib cranes. Within seconds, the submariner crew were on the jetty, taking the unidentified cargo from the shoulders of the four soldiers and hoisting it with ease onto the foredeck, thence by some lightningfast legerdemain out of sight below decks. The crew had followed, leaving Überlojtnant Nollau as the only member of the Senior Service still on the jetty. At a silent gesture from one of the anonymous black trenchcoats the four soldiers climbed back over the tailgate, into the truck. After about four attempts, the driver managed to coax the engine into life and began to back and fill, facing back the way he had come.

As he completed the manoeuvre and gunned the engine to set off up the hill, the four SS officers opened their trenchcoats to reveal the muzzles of rapid fire MP40 machine pistols. With one accord they raised their weapons and sent round after deadly round of ammunition into both the cab and the rear of the vehicle, holding the triggers steady. Before the hail of bullets ceased, the fuel tanks of the wagon exploded, sending flames soaring high into the night sky, setting small fires in the tree tops as they lost their intensity and curled back towards the ground.

Suddenly, Herbert Nollau’s orders seemed fractionally less dishonourable.

Having emptied their weapons, the four executioners appeared to have rediscovered some of their habitual swagger and pride. Crashing the butts of the now-empty weapons against the rough wooden planking of the jetty they raised their right arms to the fullest, and screamed: “Heil, Hitler!” as their heels crashed together in perfect unison.

            Sick to his stomach at the pleasure his countrymen took from the callous murder of fellow Germans, it was all Herbert Nollau could do to raise his arm, bent-elbowed, in the less formal salute he would never under normal circumstances have accepted from others nor used himself.

About the author:

Website: www.PaulMcDermottBooks.webs.com

My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/paul.mcdermott.7737

Also: www.whimsicalproductions.com and www.thewriterschatroom.com

The Spear of Destiny is available at:

Paperback exclusively at the Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/component/virtuemart/historical-fiction/the-spear-of-destiny-detail?Itemid=0

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZKRH5K/

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/718491

James Austin McCormick talks about Dragon on Barbara Edwards Comments

Please welcome James Austin McCormick, author of Dragon

Although I write in several genres (all speculative fiction) the one I return to most often is science fiction. This is especially true for my Dragon series (Dragon being the name of a sentient space craft). First off, I should say a little about the first novel. The book centres on Sillow, a neurotic and hyperactive elf and Brok, a surly, taciturn and bad-tempered barbarian. They are very much the odd couple in space and are constantly squabbling. I enjoy writing fast paced scenes and action more than anything else, so I structured the book as seven interlinking chapter stories which follows the hapless duo over twenty years, from wanted smugglers to heroes of a peace keeping alliance.

Dragon is a self-contained narrative with a clearly defined ending (one of the favourite endings of all my books) yet I could never get these two characters out of my head. The idea of a sequel never appealed to me, and also wouldn’t have worked. Instead I decided to fill in some of the gaps between the chapter stories. There is a one-year gap for example between the first and second chapters, during which time the two decide to try their hand at smuggling. The second book I wrote covers this period and is titled, Dragon: Smuggler Tales, following the ill-fated duo on a series of bungled missions.

After Smuggler tales I still felt there were more stories left in the universe I’d created, although as far as the dysfunctional partnership went, that had run its course. Between chapters six and seven there is a ten-year gap during which time Brok returns to his home world to marry and take up a role in government whilst Sillow becomes a solo agent of the peace keeping alliance. This was fertile ground. The next two Dragon books, Dragon: The Tower of Tamerlane and Dragon: The Prisoner of Valathia cover Sillow’s first two missions. When I wrote Prisoner, I’d decided it would be the last story, so as well as the usual action and comedy scrapes I always put into these stories, I also took the time to explore Sillow’s character more deeply and bring some pathos to the tale. 

I think I’ve done almost everything I can with this series although one more idea has bubbled up from my unconscious. This would involve an ensemble piece, focusing on Sillow, Brok and a handful of other characters (mostly bad guys) from the various books teaming up in a sort of Magnificent 7 type way, although this particular team would be more like the Farcical 7. Sillow would be the nervy pilot who has recently fallen off the wagon. Just an idea at the moment but I’m sure it will get written one day. 

About the Author:

James Austin McCormick is a college lecturer from Manchester, England and his free time enjoy writing speculative fiction, mostly science fiction, horror and a little sword and sorcery fantasy. He is also a particular fan of classic Gothic and Victorian horror tales and is currently in the process of writing updated versions of these with a science fiction spin.

Find out more about James at:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJamesAustinMcCormick/

Twitter https://twitter.com/jimbomcc69

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9860555.James_Austin_McCormick

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/James-McCormick/e/B00F3F9SGY

Class Act Books http://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/our-authors/manufacturers/james-austin-mccormick

Blurb for Dragon:

As worlds conspire against each other, Gax, an insane warlord, stockpiles an arsenal of ancient technology in his attempt to rule known space. Less 

Two ill matched and reluctant heroes stand in his way; Sillow, a neurotic and cowardly Sylvan and Brok, a surly and ill tempered Herkulun warrior. After a chance meeting in a seedy, mobster owned casino the two find their fates interlinked as they are propelled into a series of hair raising adventures that takes them from wanted smugglers to agents of a peace keeping alliance.

Excerpt:

Asmara was a small desert moon orbiting its gas giant parent at a distance just great enough to put it outside the planet’s radioactive reach. It was a cold, dusty little place, barely capable of supporting microbic life. Yet it did have one thing in its favor, its location.Asmara was in the gray zone, an area of space almost central to the six worlds. None dared lay claim to it and consequently it was free of all outside authority. That was why the crime syndicates built their Pleasure Dome there, and in the two decades after the Dark Age Wars it flourished.

It was here, at one of the casino tables, the last three players of a merciless card game studied their hands. Two of them, a human and a reptilian Tuolon, were far from happy, glaring angrily at the third player as he whistled out a tuneless melody. If Sillow had been human, he would have been judged to be no more than fourteen. He wasn’t; he was a Sylvan, and his childlike face and adolescent build were quite normal for his twenty-five years.

As he looked over his cards from beneath a shock of dark green hair, only his large eyes were visible. It was just as well, for his lips moved frantically as he mentally played through the possible scenarios.

Finally he gave a little nod and placed his cards face down. He took his cigar from the ashtray and began puffing heavily on it. The human, a skinny man with pockmarked features, ran a hand over two day’s stubble,

“Make your damn move,” he growled. “If you’ve got the goods, show them.”

Sillow shrugged. “Hey, give me a break Garrick,” he replied in his soft, musical voice. “You can’t rush something like this.”

He looked at his cards again, studying them as he blew smoke rings in the air. His little feet tapped all the while on the hard marble floor.

His fellow players regarded him with extreme irritation, and the human cameto the decision the Sylvan was playing mind games with them. The truth though was far different. Sillow was scared and was trying to decide how best to safely extricate himself and the credits he needed from his present circumstances.

Although he couldn’t say why, he was certain now the Tuolon was a professional assassin here to kill him. His would be killer even blewhis ship up to stop him escaping.

Since then the little Sylvan had been busy at the tables making the money he needed to get a freighter off the Dome. There was a royal summons to answer and he’d delayed too long already. The message was just one word, Suleiman.

“Okay, ready,” he finally announced. “You want to see this hand it’ll cost you…” he paused for effect, “six more credits.”

The human thought hard for a moment, shook his head then threw the chips into the pot in the middle of the table.

Buy Links:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/674265

Paperback from the publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/component/virtuemart/science-fiction/dragon-396-detail?Itemid=0