K. Ceres Wright

Butler/Banks Blog Tour: Davaun Sanders

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Apr 28, 2014

Davaun Sanders

Thanks for checking out the work of all the authors participating in The 2014 Butler/Banks Book Tour. This is a huge year for many of us, and we couldn’t do what we love without the support of YOU, our readers! I hope you’ve been exposed to your next favorite author and encourage you to leave honest reviews of our work wherever you purchased it! Your feedback to other readers who share your interest is pure gold for indy authors.

Please enjoy the excerpt from my first novel, The Seedbearing Prince: Part I posted below. You can download it for FREE on Amazon for a limited time! The Seedbearing Prince: Part II is also available—click here!

The Seedbearing Prince part 1

Dayn Ro’Halan’s adventures will continue in The Course of Blades, to be released this summer—the third of six total books in the World Breach series. I’m really excited about this novel, it’s going to be the best one yet.

That being said…let’s do a giveaway!

Rules are simple: send me a picture of yourself READING a novel by ANY AUTHOR on The Butler/Banks Book Tour. You use an e-reader? Great. Reading in costume, or upside down? Even better! Go crazy—just keep it SFW please! Share with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

I’ll post your pictures to my Facebook and happily send you a FREE ebook of The Seedbearing Prince: Part II OR “The Course of Blades” when it is released this summer. We’ll all pretty much be famous together. It’s all so clear to me.

Let the photobomb commence, because this giveaway ends with the last day of the Butler/Banks Book Tour, April 30th!

The Seedbearing Prince Part I: Prologue

The torrent shifted again, and a thousand shards of onyx flashed to fire as Corian swept through a roiling field of ice and stone. The sheath on his worn black armor held, but would not last much longer. The stream of rock in the space between the worlds drifted slower here, and boasted several floating mountains large enough to hold a layer of air. Green ferns covered the surface of the nearest, providing plenty of cover. Corian was tempted to stop and rest, but crater wolves likely roamed in such thick foliage. The entire World Belt hung on the message he bore to the Ring, and he could rest after his task was done.

A field of red granite stretched in the space above him like the bizarre clouds of some nightmare, the individual boulders careening off each other by the hundreds. Only the hardest minerals and metals endured the endless pounding of the rock flow, and only the most foolish men would brave such a swath of torrent. They were moving the direction he needed to go, into the flow where the rock moved fastest. In the torrent, speed kills, he reminded himself. He was the best courser among the Ring’s Guardians, but the rock never cared.

Corian deftly attached a new talon to what remained of his silver wingline, then heaved it. The metal hook took hold, his wingline snapped taut, and the boulder yanked Corian into the flow. He repeated the process, each time roping a boulder moving faster, until his last guide rock pulled him along at hundreds of spans a second. A layer of white frost appeared on his armor and mask in a blink. He reeled himself in and clung to the red surface, like a flea riding a river bison in the middle of a stampeding herd. He watched every direction at once from his perch, digging his gauntlets into the crumbling surface. The boulder was actually some ancient rusted metal, not granite as he first thought. The torrent here was so thick he could barely see the stars, and it filled his ears with a distant roar.

He sped along this way for some time, until he spied a pockmarked mass of stone and iron, large as a dwarf moon. A cleft right down the middle threatened to split the entire thing in half. A tower in the northern axis had seen more than its fair share of rust, but the light strobing from it pulsed regularly, illuminating the smaller rocks orbiting around it. As a whole, the wayfinder was ugly and old, but the mass of rock was the most blessed sight Corian could imagine after a week of surviving the torrent’s attempts to grind him to powder.

His next wingline took him closer. If the wayfinder was powered as well as he suspected, he could use the array inside it to find out where he was in the torrent, and see how close the Ring lay. He might even find food and water, if peace favored him. A fellow Guardian must stop here often for such an old wayfinder to be this well preserved, he thought.

Smaller debris pelted the wayfinder’s old crust, disintegrating in flashes of light. The surface shone with hundreds of impacts, large and small. Corian chose a crater near the old tower, perhaps seventy spans deep with high walls that would offer good angles to slow himself as he approached.

As he prepared to throw out another talon, dark shapes poured from the wayfinder’s cleft. He stared for a moment, incredulous. There could be no crater wolves on a wayfinder, with no game to hunt, unless they were marooned after striking some other erratic in the torrent. No, those shapes moved with a military precision, more lethal than the deadliest pack. He could see them clearly now, massive men covered in black. “No. Not here!” Corian barely recognized his own weary voice.

The voidwalkers had seen him. A pinprick of light shone on the wayfinder’s surface, brighter than the tower’s regular strobe. He eyed it mistrustfully as he searched for a place to throw his next wingline and change his momentum. He spotted a tumbling boulder half covered with ice, moving away from the wayfinder too fast.

The light near the voidwalkers flashed. A beam of energy rushed into Corian’s path, hot as molten steel. A lifetime of coursing experience kicked in, and he curled his legs up until his knees touched his ears, rolling forward. The strange fire passed underneath him by less than a span. He could feel the heat of it through his protective layer of sheath. The beam burned past, and slammed into a rock fifty spans away. The tumbling boulder barely even slowed in its course, but the spot where the weapon struck—for there was no question that is what it was—glowed red hot at the edges. The glistening center had cooled quick as glass.

Another pinprick of light. He twisted around in the weightlessness of the void to point his feet back toward the wayfinder and make himself a smaller target. It did no good. The beam rushed straight at him, and his world turned red with pain.

An impact jarred him awake. Another. Corian opened his eyes. I’m much too cold. The voidwalker weapon had burned away his sheath. Layers of his black armor were peeling away from the metal plates like paper curled in a fire. He had been caught in a tangle of purple-rooted vines intertwined in a mile long cluster of the floating rock, what Jendini coursers called a knotted forest. The roots were nearly hard as stone in places. Dusty old bones from animals Corian did not even recognize littered the tangles. Debris from the torrent stretched around the forest in every direction, and errant stones pelted the mass of vines, which he immediately recognized. Courser’s nap, the whole forest is covered with it.

Corian reached into a compartment on his armored belt and removed his last flask of sheath. He applied the clear liquid to his ruined armor in quick, smooth motions, not leaving one inch exposed. The sheath locked together in small patches of light, and his body’s heat immediately began to warm the interior of the invisible, protective barrier. Once the sheath was gone, his armor would not prevent the smallest pebble from killing him, if one struck him moving fast enough. For the first time, Corian considered that he may not survive.

This was to be his last circuit as a Guardian for the Ring, and he held the hope that he would look into his grandchildren’s eyes back on Jendini now that his service was finished. Yet his duty hung over him, heavier than ever. In the distance he could see the world of Shard, verdant and green just beyond the torrent’s chaos. His resolve hardened.

He slipped a speechcaster into his mouth and began to speak as he worked himself free of the tangled vines. The small wafer could hold his words in secret for a few days, should things go badly here.
“I am Corian Nightsong, a Guardian of the Ring. There are Thar’Kuri warriors on the world of Nemoc. The voidwalkers have built a device that allows them to…teleport themselves at will through the Belt. They are gathering in numbers, preparing for an attack. There are captives from all over the worlds imprisoned on Nemoc. The voidwalkers have weapons unlike anything known from the Ring. They use energy and can attack over great distances. They must have been made in the age before the Breach.

If you knew where to look for this message, you must deliver it with all haste to Force Lord Adazia on the Ring. The worlds all depend on you, for I have failed them.” The admission filled Corian with bitterness, but he forced a strength he no longer felt into his words. “My sons and daughters live in Denkstone, on Jendini. Tell them…their father served well.”

One of the vines tangled around his torso began to quiver. Corian looked down, fearing a leaf, but instead he saw a voidwalker, climbing toward him. Corian was tall, but the hulking brute easily overtopped him by a head. His glistening black armor looked as if it were melted to his frame, and covered him from head to toe save two dark slits for his eyes. The vines broke like dried mud in the voidwalker’s grasp.

Corian began to climb, scrambling further into the vines. He did not bother to draw his sword, the voidwalker would overpower him in moments if they were to fight.

“So afraid of an old courser?” Corian shouted. He pulled at every vine in his path as he fled, but most of them were stiff and gray. Living vines of the courser’s nap were purple and sticky, but the true danger lay with the leaves.

The voidwalker’s gravelly voice called to Corian, cold as an orphan’s gravestone. “Come to me, degenerate.”

Corian drew his sword, and began slashing his way through the vines. They sparked as his blade struck, but gave way. He leapt through an open space nearly ten spans across. The voidwalker followed without hesitation. So strong. Corian knew the brute meant to take him alive. He could not allow that.
He landed on a solid gray swath, fleshy beneath his feet. He rolled and lunged just as the leaf stirred. A row of spikes slipped out of the edges, thick as Corian’s leg and sharp enough to cleave a horse in two. Corian barely cleared them. The voidwalker was not so lucky. His momentum carried him right into the center of the carnivorous plant, which enveloped him with a twist of blue-veined leaf. Steam issued from the folds near the plant’s edges as it fed.

More pods of the courser’s nap were coming to life, enlivened by the voidwalker’s screams. Corian avoided the leaves wherever they stirred. He climbed and lunged and dived through the vines, soon pulling himself to the edge of the knotted forest. Pure torrent lay before him, an endless landscape of chaotic rock. There was no clear flow in any direction, the individual boulders in the skyscape crashed into each other in a hundred shattering impacts. I’ll leap blind and pray that my sheath holds.
Another voidwalker tore himself out of the vines a few spans away. Peace, but look at the size of him! The voidwalker’s armor looked as chewed up as the oldest rocks of the torrent, endless dents and scratches plastered the black surface.

“I’ve enjoyed hunting you, degenerate.”

Another courser’s leaf reared up behind the voidwalker as he lumbered toward Corian. The leaf lunged and took the voidwalker up, curling round and round as the folds of leaf tightened. Corian allowed himself a moment of elation, but it was short lived. A pale hand appeared on the side of the courser’s nap, and bright green fluid poured out. The leaf whipped back and forth, emitting a piercing shriek as the voidwalker pulled it apart piece by piece from the inside. Corian needed to see no more. He leaped, and prayed the torrent would show him mercy.

Also available, The Seedbearing Prince Part 2

The Seedbearing Prince part 2

Butler/Banks Blog Tour: Valjeanne Jeffers

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Apr 28, 2014

Today we have an encore feature: Valjeanne Jeffers!

Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, a member of the Carolina African American Writer’s Collective, and The Traveling Round Table of Fantasy Bloggers.

immortal

Her writing has been published in numerous anthologies including: 60 Years of Black Women in Horror Fiction, Steamfunk!, Genesis: A Black Science Fiction Anthology Volumes I and II, Genesis Science Fiction Magazine, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (as Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson), Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, Liberated Muse I: How I Freed My Soul, PurpleMag, Drumvoices Revue Issues 15, 16, 17, 31 Days of Steamy Mocha, Griots II: Sisters of the Spear, and Possibilities.pe

Valjeanne is co-owner of Q & V Affordable Editing. Valjeanne is writing her third and fourth books: Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective and Colony: Ascension.

Watch her reading from her works.

Butler/Banks Blog Tour: Milton Davis’ Griots: Sisters of the Spear

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Apr 25, 2014

Next on the tour we feature Milton Davis’ Griots: Sisters of the Spear.

Griots: Sisters of the Spear Description

Griots: Sisters of the Spear picks up where the ground-breaking Griots Anthology leaves off. Charles R. Saunders and Milton J. Davis present seventeen original and exciting Sword and Soul tales focusing on black women. Just as the Griots Anthology broke ground as the first Sword and Soul Anthology, Griots: Sisters of the Spear pays homage to the spirit, bravery and compassion of women of color. Seventeen authors and eight artists combine their skills to tell stories of bravery, love, danger and hope. The griots have returned to sing new songs, and what wonderful songs they are!

Griots

Excerpt for Griots: Sisters of the Spear

SPEARING STEREOTYPES

By Charles R. Saunders

The woman in Andrea Rushing’s evocative painting that graces the cover of Griots: Sisters of the Spear symbolizes the essence of the anthology. Although the painting is not a direct depiction of any of the characters in the stories, the spirit of this woman imbues all of them. She is a teller of truth, and a slayer of stereotypes.

As is the case with black men, black women have been subjected to invidious stereotyping for centuries in real life and fiction alike. For the most part, these characterizations have ranged from the condescending to the downright hostile – from the faithful “Mammy” of Gone with the Wind to the scornful “Sapphire” of Amos ‘n’ Andy to the degraded “Ho” made infamous in all-too-many rap-music lyrics. The fantasy-fiction genre is no exception. Until recently, black women have been either non-existent, or portrayed in ways that made absence the preferable alternative.

Real life defies the stereotypes. Throughout history, there has been no dearth of strong and courageous black women who have stood alongside – and sometimes in front of – their men and children during the course of a 500-year-long struggle against oppression in Africa, and the places in the rest of the world to which Africans were taken against their will to fuel economies with their forced labor.

A few examples: The Candace, or queen, of Kush defied the legions of ancient Rome. Queen Nzinga of Ndongo in central Africa fought to protect her people from the depredations of European slavers. Harriet Tubman risked her life to lead slaves to freedom in the years before the U.S. Civil War. Fannie Lou Hamer endured vicious physical abuse from the authorities in her non-violent quest to win basic civil rights for black Americans. Women such as these – and many more like them – stand as living contradictions to the misrepresentations that persist to this day.

So do the women in Sisters of the Spear. When Milton Davis came up with the idea of a woman-themed sequel to our first anthology, Griots, I co-signed immediately. Like Griots, Sisters of the Spear presents an opportunity to bring more black representation to a genre that’s still in need of more color. Thanks to Griots, we knew there were more than a few writers and artists of all racial persuasions who would embrace our theme of powerful black womanhood and create stories and illustrations that would be excellent by any standard.

Our expectations have been more than fulfilled. Our modern-day griots came through with – not to belabor the point – flying colors. The fictional warrior-women and sorceresses you will meet in the following pages can hold their own and then some against the barbarians and power-mad monarchs and magic-users of both genders who swing swords and cast spells in the mostly European-derived settings of modern fantasy and sword-and-sorcery. The reach of sword-and soul has expanded greatly with Sisters of the Spear.

It’s time now to allow the woman on the cover serve as your guide through the anthology. The light she carries will illuminate the truth that is always inherent in the best of fiction. And her spear will slay the stereotypes.

Butler/Banks Blog Tour: Milton Davis–Woman of the Woods

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Apr 23, 2014

Butler Banks Book Tours today’s feature author is Milton Davis.

Milton Davis is the author of more than a dozen books on Speculative Fiction. He’s also a publisher, MVmedia, LLC.

Milton-Davis-245x300

Woman of the woods Synopsis

WomanOfTheWoods

The latest Sword and Soul novel by Milton Davis returns to the land of Meji, the amazing world of Uhuru. It tells the story of Sadatina, a girl on the brink of becoming a woman living with her family in Adamusola, the land beyond the Old Men Mountains. But tragic events transpire that change her life forever, revealing a hidden past that leads her into the midst of a war between her people and those that would see them destroyed, the Mosele. Armed with a spiritual weapon and her feline ‘sisters,’ Sadatina becomes a Shosa, a warrior trained to fight the terrible nyokas, demon-like creatures that aid the Mosele in their war against her people.
Woman of the Woods is an action filled, emotionally charged adventure that expands the scope of the world of Uhuru and introduces another unforgettable character to its heroic legends.

Woman of the Woods Excerpt

The Shosa followed Teshome through the village and out into the countryside. The journey was slow; Teshome walked before the Shosa, refusing to mount a horse with them. From morning to noon they traveled though farmland; after a brief rest they journeyed until they reached the fallow fields beyond the farmland. They camped in the shadow of the mounds, the Shosa posting guards to patrol the camp in shifts. They broke camp early next day and continued their march, reaching the river that separated the hills from the fields by late afternoon. Hazeeta and Teshome strolled to the river’s edge, the two of them gazing at the verdant and ominous knolls.

“How long have you known the woman of the woods?” Hazeeta asked.

“Sadatina,” he said.

“What?” Hazeeta’s heart jumped. It was her! Her daughter was alive! She looked at Asli and her sister smiled.

Teshome looked at her and smiled. “Her name is Sadatina. I knew her before she became a hunter. I saw her one day when she and her mother came to Wubet. I met her when I worked on her baba’s farm during the harvest season.”

“How did she become a hunter?”

Teshome looked away. “You will have to ask her. If she wants you to know, she will tell you.”

His reply angered her. “Does our presence bother you? You didn’t have to lead us here.”

Teshome squatted and pulled a blade of grass. “No, you are fine. I’m happy you have come. She needs help. I…we cannot fight the nyokas. We try, but they always kill more of us than we kill of them. If it weren’t for Sadatina, you would have found what you expected.”

Teshome stood and smiled at Hazeeta. “We will have to go slow, though. Sadatina only trusts her sisters and me.”

“Since you won’t tell me about Sadatina, can you at least tell of the other women?”

Teshome looked confused. “Other women?”

Hazeeta rolled her eyes. “Her sisters!”

Teshome smiled. “It is hard to explain. You will see.” If Teshome knew anything else he was reluctant to provide it.

“When will she arrive?” Hazeeta asked.

Teshome stuck the grass blade between his teeth. “Soon.”

Hazeeta and Teshome spent most of the day beside the river, staring into the foliage. The sun began its descent behind the hills when the silence was broken by the faint roar of a shumba.

Teshome suddenly stood. “She is coming,” he whispered. He waded into the river, Hazeeta close behind. Asli ran to her side. Hazeeta turned and signaled for the other Shosa to stay back.

Teshome halted a few yards away from the forest edge. Hazeeta and Asli were approaching when he waved them back. “Wait. I will tell you when to come,” he shouted.

Hazeeta heard the shumba roar again. It was coming closer. The foliage before Teshome jostled and Sadatina emerged.

It took everything in Hazeeta to keep from shouting for joy. There was no doubt in her mind that the woman emerging from the woods was her daughter. She was her father’s daughter, from the intense eyes to the confident walk. The Wubetu nyoka hunter sauntered from the trees, a confident look on her young face. She was barely dressed, a leather top covering her breasts and a kanga resting low on her swaying hips. A sword hilt peeked over her shoulder; she carried a lance punctuated by an ornate broad leaf blade in her left hand. But what caught Hazeeta’s attention was the ginanga head Sadatina held by its coarse hair in her right hand.

Another sight stunned the Shosa leader as well. Two female shumbas followed Sadatina, their snouts stained with nyoka blood. They trotted past her to Teshome, snuggling their heads against his legs and humming like docile pets.

Sadatina’s tough demeanor fell away as she neared Teshome. A childlike smile graced her face as she dropped the lance and nyoka head carelessly and threw her arms around his neck. They kissed long and Hazeeta smiled. She couldn’t remember the last time a man had kissed her that way.

Sadatina pulled away from Teshome and peered over his shoulder. Her smile faded. The shumbas took notice as well and their backs stiffened. Asli raised her lance.

“No,” Hazeeta ordered. “No threatening moves. We’ll let Teshome handle this.”

Words passed between Teshome and the huntress. Sadatina marched up to them, the shumbas beside her. She stopped a lance thrust away. The shumbas kept their distance as they circled the duo.

“You are Shosa?” Sadatina asked. Her voice sounded as young as she looked. “Why have you come?”

Hazeeta wanted to reach out and hug Sadatina but she maintained her composure. Now was not the time. “We came to survey this valley and protect it if needed,” Hazeeta answered.

“We need no protection,” Sadatina replied.

“I see,” Hazeeta agreed. “But we are curious about you.”

“Why?”

“The ability to kill nyokas is not a common thing,” Hazeeta answered. “We Shosa train years to acquire the skill and still we need talismans, gris-gris, Cha’s strength and each other. Yet you hunt alone…”

Sadatina looked to the shumbas. “I have my sisters.”

“Yes you do, which is another mystery. It is now obvious to me why Cha sent us here. He sent us here to find you.”

“You have found me. Now you can go.”

“Wait!” Hazeeta stepped toward Sadatina and the shumbas leaped between them. They crouched and roared. Asli rushed to Hazeeta’s side, her lance leveled at the cats. The other Shosas advanced toward them, bows loaded and aimed. Sadatina turned her head and again Hazeeta was impressed. The young slayer was not intimidated by the Shosas’ threat. If anything, she looked annoyed.

“Stand down!” Hazeeta shouted. Asli lowered her lance and raised an open hand, her signal reinforcing Hazeeta’s words. Their sisters lowered their bows.

“Come, sisters,” Sadatina said. The shumbas roared and trotted to Sadatina. She smirked at Hazeeta and returned to Teshome’s side.

“She’s fearless,” Asli commented. “She is your daughter.”

“Yes she is,” Hazeeta replied. She patted Asli’s shoulder. “Come, let’s leave those two alone. We’ll set up camp a few yards away. I’ll try to talk to her again tomorrow.”

The Shosa set up camp. While her sisters tended to their needs, Hazeeta sat by her tent, watching Sadatina, Teshome and the shumbas. The child she had left behind thirteen years ago had followed in her footsteps despite not knowing anything about her. It was surely Cha’s will she survived. Any lingering doubt of her decision to have her was washed away by the sight before her. Her daughter was meant to live.

It fascinated her at how completely the girl’s hard countenance melted away when she was with the young man. The two of them cavorted as if the danger just across the river was nonexistent. The shumbas joined in the carousing, batting at the two of them like cubs rather than the fierce predators they were. It was a strange scene of innocence that went on most of the afternoon until Sadatina and Teshome went to the river. They stripped naked and plunged into the clear waters, no modesty between them as they bathed. They began to play again, but this time the play was more suggestive of things to come. As the sun settled behind the hills they retired to their tent. The shumbas moved before the entrance, their eyes and ears suddenly attentive.

“Hazeeta?”

Asli’s voice startled her. She held a plate of food out to her. “Here, eat something.”

Hazeeta accepted the plate and ate absently. “Did you see them?”

Asli rolled her eyes. “Who couldn’t? Your child is not very modest.”

“We’re leaving her here,” Hazeeta decided.

Asli stepped into Hazeeta’s view, her shocked expression plain.

“We can’t! She may be the one Cha has summoned.”

“Then let Cha call her,” Hazeeta retorted. “She is happy here, far happier than she would be if we took her back to Wangara.”

“How long can she continue to fight the nyokas alone without Cha’s guidance? You know what is coming. You know what Nana has seen.”

“I know, but I cannot do this to her. If I were in her place I wouldn’t want to go, either. Here she has companionship and love. In Wangara…”

Asli frowned. “You let your personal feelings get in the way of your duty.”

Hazeeta dropped her plate. “Don’t lecture me! I am in command here and if I say we leave her be then we leave her be. Do you understand?”

Asli looked more hurt than angry. “I understand.”

She spun to walk away but Hazeeta grabbed her arm. “I’m sorry, my friend.”

Asli grasped her hand. “I understand. I am your sister, remember? We will leave in the morning as you ordered. I will talk to the others. No one will speak of this upon our return.”

“Thank you, sister.”

Asli looked away from Hazeeta. “Nana will find out eventually.”

Hazeeta nodded. “I know, but at least I’ll have no guilt when she finally comes to Wangara. At least I can say it was not my doing.”

Hazeeta slept easy that night, assured she’d made the right choice and happy that her sisters agreed. She knew she would have to deal with her choice in the future, but that was then. Her daughter was alive. Tonight she was at peace.

That peace was shattered with a familiar sick feeling in her stomach. The ground shook beneath her as she clambered from her cot, a strange rhythmic cadence that heralded a solitary approach. She donned her leather and chain mail and draped her gris-gris about herself. When she exited her tent, her sisters were in motion as well, mounting their horses and arming themselves. Hazeeta didn’t look to them. Her attention went to the solitary tent closest to the river’s edge. Sadatina stood with her sisters, their faces turned toward the wooded hills. Teshome stood behind them. She looked so vulnerable, her only protection her swords and her shumbas.

Asli brought her horse. “What is this?” she asked. “This does not feel right.”

“We’ll find out soon,” Hazeeta said grimly. “Come, we must hurry.”

A garbled cry burst from the darkness, spooking the horses and sending a chill through Hazeeta. This was something different, she was sure; the confidence forged by her earlier experience against Karan’s creations diminished with the realization. The Shosa gathered at the riverbank.

“Start a fire,” Hazeeta ordered.

The sisters hurried to gather wood from the nearby forest and started a healthy blaze. Hazeeta did not need to give the next command. Her best archers went to the flames with arrows dipped in flammable oil, lighting the missiles in unison and loading their bows.

“Fire!” She commanded. Her sisters responded seconds later, blazing bolts streaking overhead like falling stars and peppering both sides of the bank. Another bellow shook the night and their adversary emerged from the woods. It was huge, much larger that the biggest washaka, a grotesque amalgamation of beasts built by malicious hands. Its massive body suggested the mountain primates but its stance was more human than beast. A jackal-like snout protruded from its face, its head crowned by a pair of thick, curved horns. Hazeeta had no idea about the meaning behind the beast’s demeanor, but its size alone signaled caution. A volley of poison arrows followed by a gris lance charge would have been her command, but she had no time to call out the orders. Sadatina and her shumbas leaped through the flames no sooner than the arrows illuminated their way. The larger shumba leaped onto the beast’s shoulder, digging in with teeth and claws. As the beast cried out and reached for her, the other shumba lunged at its left leg, biting into its hamstring. Sadatina ran at the beast and leaped into the air, her sword raised over her head.

But the beast was swifter that its size suggested. It grasped the shumba at its leg, ripped it free and threw it away like debris. The shumba crashed into Sadatina and they both tumbled into the river. It grasped the other feline with both hands and pulled it away, but before it could fling it free the shumba gripped the hand and bit into the wrist. A piercing howl caused Hazeeta and her sisters to cringe as they reached the flaming perimeter. The Shosa raised their bows ready to fire but Hazeeta stopped them.

Sadatina and the other shumba emerged from the river and renewed their attack. As her companion worried the beast’s arms, the other climbed its torso. Sadatina worked her way behind it and hacked at its hamstrings like a woodsman, gritty determination warping her face. Again the creature managed to free itself. It twisted, throwing both shumbas from its body. Sadatina barely dodged a swipe from its clawed hand, jumping away to join her returning cohorts.

“Now!” Hazeeta shouted. A volley of bolts sprang from the Shosa bows. The beast crouched and they sailed over it, peppering the trees across the river.

“Reload!” she shouted. “Lancers advance!” The sisters split into two groups. Half replenished their bows and gathered behind Asli. The others slung their bows on their backs and freed their gris lances, the double tipped spears laced with gris-gris. They lined up behind Hazeeta. She raised her saber, preparing to signal the charge when a horrifying sight stopped her. Sadatina leaped before the creature again. She sliced at its neck but the creature ducked. It raised its head, slamming its crown into her. The girl warrior sailed backwards through the flame barrier, landing hard on her back.

Teshome ran toward her, a machete in his hand. “Sadatina!” he yelled as he approached the flame.

“Teshome, no!” Sadatina yelled back. “Get away!”

“Shossssa!” the creature hissed.

Hazeeta jerked with morbid shock. “It speaks?”

The creature charged through the fire on all fours. Teshome stood before it like a statue. Hazeeta had seen this scenario too many times before. A warrior too terrified to flee bolted in place by indecision.

The creature turned its head to the right and jerked it left. The left horn impaled Teshome’s chest. For a brief moment he rode the horn until he slipped away and tumbled from the nyoka’s path. Sadatina scrambled to her feet and ran to him. Hazeeta followed her with her eyes until she was clear. It was time for her sisters to act.

“Fire!” she yelled. Arrows swarmed the creature’s face like bees, some penetrating into its head while others caromed off its horns. The creature collapsed, grabbing at the poison bolts protruding from its bleeding face.

“Second volley, fire!” Asli shouted. The second volley struck with such impact the nyoka staggered back, its arms flung wide. The second volley was no random fusillade; each sister aimed her shot at a point on the beast where the veins should be close, thus speeding the entry of the poison into its blood. The creature continued to stagger, though with the amount of poison coursing through its bulk it should have been dead.

Hazeeta said nothing to instigate the charge. She lifted her lance, spurred her horse and galloped forward, lowering the weapon as she neared the wounded beast. Her sisters spread out beside her, keeping pace as they neared the nyoka. It tottered, absently pulling at the projectiles in its flesh. The Shosa could have waited for the poison to take effect but Hazeeta would not let this thing die a peaceful death. She raised her lance to her shoulder and flung it with all her strength. The double edged projectile hit the nyoka full in its throat. It grabbed the lance’s shaft and tugged at it weakly. Her sisters threw their lances as well, peppering the beast’s body. The beast shuddered, falling onto its back.

Hazeeta veered away while her sisters drew their sabers and advanced on the dying beast. She searched the darkness and found what she was looking for. Sadatina knelt beside Teshome, cradling his head in her lap. She rocked back and forth, her sobbing loud in Hazeeta’s ears. An old pain resurfaced in the Shosa’s heart and her own eyes began to water. By the time she reined her horse and dismounted she was crying as well.

“Why, Teshome? Why?” Sadatina said between sobs.

Hazeeta approached slowly, wary of the shumbas which paced nervously, occasionally looking at Sadatina and the lifeless Teshome. When she reached Sadatina’s side, she knelt beside her but said nothing.

“You always wanted to protect me,” Sadatina said. “I didn’t need your protection. All I needed was your love.”

Hazeeta reached out and gingerly touched Sadatina’s shoulder. When she was sure Sadatina wouldn’t reject her she moved closer, holding her within her arms. This was not a time for words.

“Hazeeta?” Asli came up beside her, her face grim.

“Harvest the body for gris-gris and burn the rest,” Hazeeta said automatically.

Asli lingered, glancing at Hazeeta and back to her sisters. Hazeeta looked at her again, her face stern. “Go. I’ll be here with Sadatina.”

Link to Amazon where you find many of his books: Milton Davis

Banks/Butler Blog Tour: Kai Leakes

by , on
Apr 22, 2014

Next up on the tour is Kai Leakes!

From Iowa, but later relocating to Alton, IL and St. Louis, MO, Kai Leakes was a multifaceted Midwestern child, who gained an addiction to books at an early age. Sharing stories with her cousins as a teen, writing books didn’t seem like something she would pursue until one day in college. Storytelling continues to be a major part of her very DNA, with the goal of sharing tales that entertain and add color to a gray literary world.

In her spare time she likes to cook, dabble in photography, and assists with an internet/social networking group online. Loving to feed her book addiction, romance, fantasy and fiction novels are her world. Reading those particular genres help guide her as she finds the time to write and study for school.

Author of the Devotion Book Series, Sin Eaters:Devotion Book One & Sin Eaters – Retibution: Devotion Book Two, you can find her at: kwhp5f.wix.com/kai-leakes

Kai cover

Series: Devotion (Book 1)
Paperback: 378 pages
Publisher: Urban Books (July 31, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601623593
ISBN-13: 978-1601623591

Khamun Cross was born to do one thing and that was to watch Sanna Steele, a woman so unique and special he would risk his all to have her. So what, that in his job of watching her, he happens to prowl the streets, hunting the very things that go bump in the night. Even monsters or everyday looking people that steal humans’ souls become Khamun’s victims, and he brings with him a power, a vampirism, that would send one straight to the dark.

Khamun craves the darkness in his victims as if it were his own personal dinner, but not as much as he craves the very woman he has been ordained to watch over as her Guardian Angel. Sanna Steele is just your average twenty-seven year old, with your everyday hopes, dreams and insecurities. She is clueless about the war that is secretly raging around her in the streets of St. Louis. A war she will soon become a part of. But what is so special about Sanna that the very things that go bump in the night, seeks to snatch her from her very existence in life?

EXCERPT

Today…

Metallic, sweet and mind intense flavor filled the air. The quiet that floated around made the hairs on passerby’s in the night to stand up as if the already chill filled wind wasn’t enough to have them shivering. Rich, black ebon swallowed the alleyway keeping the individuals who occupied it secured and sequestered away from all who dared peek down the tight tunnel. Water idly sliding down the asphalted street, mixed with oil and idle trash skating against the cracked surface, cushioned midnight colored Timberland’s as the flash of twinkling light cascaded in a flash like a pulse near the booted body.

Inhaling even shallow breaths, the individual listened as all sound seemed to be absorbed away as if in a tornado. This silence triggered the timed attack, which had the anticipation in the individual’s body expand with power, velocity, speed and well checked strength.

If one was to be one of the many idle flies which hovered in the nearby dumpster, they would be amazed at the sight of the super human individual running in an almost flying position and landing on the second hulking form in the alley.
The rise of a scent that had cats meowing and arched in defense on the railings of a window and under a parked car filled the air again as the crisp white flash of light slashed in the night air, landing against the second balked individual as the attacker hissed.

In a fraction of a blink, claws the size of an oversized lion slashed in the air as tentacles dipped out near the blind spot of the attacker, making the being jump in the air. Bringing down a flashing light of metal unto the second balked former human looking being but now entity of horrendous looks, the precise slash against the entities flesh caused the now familiar smell to fill the air once more.

The attacker crouched low in a resting battle position, taking in shallow calm breaths as the thing turn to attack again, running full speed. Its Italian leather wing tipped shoes creating a rhythm of tapping song on the alleyway floor, causing the attacker to hum, throwing the entity off its thoughts.
Light sheen of perspiration kissed the attacker’s forehead with each calm inhale. The attacker lived for this, loved it and desired the hunt of creatures such as this.

Strategizing the next move, the attacker thought back to how this prey was hunted. A

quiet smile flashed across the attackers lips. It wasn’t hard to get to the sick bastard, the attacker posed as the entities preferred targets, an angry teenager, who wanted nothing but to get away from their parent. It made the attacker clutch the blade that nestled comfortably against his palm, in anger at the obscene and pornographic discussions that would occur with the demon.
It made it even easier to identify that this monster wasn’t the shrewd Italian entrepreneur he portrayed to be, but was in fact a succubae level soul polluter demon. These breed of evil were the most degenerate of demons, they enjoyed feasting off the pain of the victims through lewd sexual means, physical decapitating torture and flesh eating.
Knowing this, it silently pleased the attacker to stalk and mentally threaten the demon’s territory by baiting it, since these demons were known for their territorial nature.

Allowing the demon to believe they were to meet up outside of a popular artist’s concert, the attacker led the demon to the alleyway through simple mind manipulation and the rest is history. Shuddering with a lethal dose of pleasure and battle tactics, the attacker’s body tightened with the wait as the breeze in the alley lightly brushed against skin.
Side stepping within the low crouch, the attacker pivoted and flipped forward with the lithe agility of a panther producing a silver gun. Suddenly as if time stopped, bullets exploded in the air as the glimmering and glowing objects penetrated the thrown back body of the beast, causing it to howl in pain.

The attacker ran full speed, watching the bullets hit each expertly calculated point on the beast’s body. Landing a blow to the entities ribcage; the muscles in the attacker’s bicep tightening with the impact of breaking bones and tearing flesh.
Seething in anger, contempt, disbelief and hate, the monster attempted to slash at the attacker with its claws, its teeth dripping with a mixture of its own blood and a liquid miasma. The beast successfully slammed the attacker into the side of a building, breaking bricks and creating a crater in the wall, rushing like a bull to launch another attack of teeth and claws. Pivoting out of the way with a deep guttural grunt, the attacker let another round of bullets to release and absorb into the slashing and bleeding beast, watching him fall.

High pitched human screams burst from the beast as it lay on the cold glistening wet pavement, its twisted and contorted body writhing as the attacker casually walked over it kneeling down and grabbing it by its neck.

Watching slowly as the entity howled, hissing and fighting back, its eyes begged to be left alone as its tentacles and claws melted away into a very human hand. As the once beastly thing revealed itself during its cries, a disheveled looking handsome muscular man, dressed in an Italian designed straight from the runway suit, coughed up spewing blood and wheezed in agony. The clawing man, murmured in unintelligible sentences, his sun kissed olive skin, slowly fading into a murky grey.

Wrinkles of decay and diseases, emitting from his once handsome frame, seemed to slosh away with every scream of pain and anger. Flowing oak colored hair, drifted away as if it was dust in the wind. The man reached out attempting to tear at the attacker’s throat as flashes of the demon’s past life of darkness flowed into his vision through the eyes and briefly flashed smile of the attacker’s photogenic face.

Hunching over in a swift movement that would rival and shame a snake, if a snake could be shamed, the attacker hissed, claw palmed the man in the chest clutching at his

engorged heart to pull it to its surface, beating against rapidly thinning skin, as the man screamed in garbled terror.

“Ashes to ashes…”, was whispered in the air as the attacker pulled the heart from the man’s cavity and ferociously bit into the side of the screaming man’s neck tearing and cavernously biting until the attacker’s mouth seemed to fuse with the writhing man’s jugular, as rivers of blood fluidly glided everywhere.

-Sin Eaters by Kai Leakes ©copyright 2012-

kai2cover

Series: Devotion Book (Book 2)
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Urban Books (June 24, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601624174
ISBN-13: 978-1601624178

Darkness is swallowing the streets of Chicago, and a key may have been found. Khamun and Sanna’s epic journey together has led them to this, their mission to save Nephilim Society from themselves. Still trying to open the secrets of the first book, Khamun and Sanna’s fight has resulted in a travesty that may change their lives. Now with Khamun at the cusp of a life and death decision, it’s up to his team to close ranks and protect their Oracle.
Calvin Freeman is surrounded by death. Not only has his cousin fallen in battle, but he’s now being stalked by ghosts from his past lives and a familiar lethal foe, The Medusa. What is deathly has become alluring, and what is toxic has become bittersweet. His dreams are betraying him, and war is coming as society turns a blind eye. It’s up to him and his family to bring their retribution, and it’s up to him to find out why the woman known for bringing nightmares has suddenly knocked at his door.
Take a final walk in the chilling world of Kai Leakes in Sin Eaters 2: Retribution Devotion Book Two.

EXCERPT

The past . . .

“Where are you going to go, boy? You’re surrounded!”

Like hell, woulda ever let ya take me down, boss, rushed into his mind as he ran. More like sprinted through the thick, grasping trees that surrounded him. Rigged branches reached out to him as if they had a mind of their own. Their thick almost-black rooted stems twisted in their uprooting from the bowels of the earth to make him trip, but he was smarter than the trees. He leaped and veered out of their menacing way and his arms jolted outward to part through bushes.

With all of the trees that surrounded him, he would not have believed that he was back in Harlem, had he known any better; but for those who don’t know it by that name, New York was where he was. The bustling city lights covered the sky like fireflies splashed across the sky’s black canvas. The noisy zipping of various buckets and hacks driving carelessly pass tourists and city folk gave him a sense of how close he exactly was to civilization. It

also gave him a sense of purpose.

Twigs snapped suddenly and the rustling of leaves tussling against each other let him know they were still hot on his trail. His mind was racing as he looked for an out. All of this was too familiar to him. Beady red eyes flickered at him in the darkness of the wilderness—no, of the park. He was in Central Park. He should have realized that. Those piercing eyes stared at him in delight, ready to seize the opportunity to hogtie him so that he could be their little plaything but he would not give them that satisfaction. Not yet.

Beads of midnight dew kissed his face the moment he stepped through the thicket. His wingtip shoes abruptly skidded as they made contact with wet, slick grass. He jumped. Then he lifted in the air, almost floating for a mere second. Both of his large feet clacked against pebbled stone the moment they met the ground.

He could hear the enemy. He could feel them breathing against the back of his neck. Each hair on his body stood in salute, coming alive in electric awareness. In this life at least, he knew he could die on his terms and die giving them a fight. In seven minutes, his time would be up soon anyway, so what could he really do about not being bumped off?

Seven . . .

A whizzing sound sizzled past his ear and he felt the hot trickle of blood mixing with his sweat and the quick pop of the gun after the fact. They wanted to play dirty. They wanted to make him appear to be a patsy and a hood. He had to laugh; he was better than a hood. Sure, at one time, he had to fill that slot but now he was his own man, a bruno to a well-known trouble boy who protected the meek of Harlem. They worked together with his gang to find those who were kidnapped or were bumping gums to the wrong people. They worked to regain money lost in predatory loans and schemes and wrongful repositions. They worked to build up their people and to protect all who walked the streets of Harlem from the highbinders that made it their mission to tear down the community. But these men who were after him, the very scum and thugs themselves, were no normal men.

Corrupted monsters in the flesh of coppers more like it. Oh, what he wouldn’t give to go out between the gams of a looker for a change.

Six . . .

The menacing snarl of dogs in the distance made him grimly chuckle before closing his eyes with the feel of his body vibrating with his gift. His gift allowed him to use the sound waves around him to channel it into music. With a slight part of his lips, he let out a low hum. Whistling he changed the pitched and dropped into a low crouch. Both hands extended outward and he observed his skin lighting up in swirling patterns against its burnished surface. That was his clue to project that vibrating power out in waves toward the hunting dogs. A change in his vision instantly allowed him to see through their glittering eyes. He then knew where to run next. With a quick shift of the pitch of his song, he caused the dogs to halt their barks, whimper, and then stopped in their tracks to turn. Attack, was his simple mental command and he watched the dogs attack their owners before sprinting away in retreat.

His sweat dripped down his face like rain on the ground before him. His ragged breath came out in sharp bursts and he pushed up to start his run again. They wouldn’t get what he had been given a vision to find. That he was sure he had hidden well; he had taken something priceless, something rare, and something they wanted destroyed but couldn’t. Something they had to hide from his people because he had learned it could kill the leader of their kind.

Five . . .

(Find out what the countdown is about when Sin Eaters 2: Retribution drops June 24th 2014)

Additional places to follow Kai Leakes:
Facebook
Twitter
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Sin Eaters Devotion Book One is out now! Sin Eaters 2: Devotion Book Two will be released June 24, 2014! Contest also coming soon!

Butler/Banks Blog Tour: Carole McDonnell

by , on
Apr 21, 2014

Next up on the Butler/Banks Blog Tour is Carole McDonnell. Read about her authorial exploits here:

Carole

I have been a book and film reviewer. My reviews have appeared in some of the following: The Peekskill Herald, The Quarterly Black Review of Books, Christian Spotlight on the Movies, Christian Spotlight on Video Games, www.blogcritics.com curledup.com compulsivereader.com and Fantastic Stories website.

My short stories have appeared in various anthologies, such as So long Been Dreaming, edited by Nalo Hopkinson; Fantastical Visions III; Jigsaw Nation edited by Ekaterina Sedia; Fantastic Stories of the Imagination edited by Warren Lapine; Griots, Griots II: Sisters of the Spear, Steamfunk, edited by Milton Davis. My stories have placed in contests such as New Mass Medias, Westchester Weekly, and the Annual Contemporary Western Fiction Contest.

My writing honors and credits include being a Poetry Judge at the annual NAACP ACTSO. I’ve been a participant in NYC’s The Women’s Caucus for Art. I’ve read at many venues including the AfricanAmerican ReadIn a national literacy cable project , Mercy College, Trinity School, Purchase College.

I was a Teaching Assistant at Peekskill High School as a finishnotfail teacher. I came from Jamaica to the United States when I was eleven and lived in Brooklyn until I was seventeen. Then I went to SUNY Purchase. I stayed there until I graduated in 1981. I’m married with two children. In the past, I was a Sunday school teacher and a neighborhood Bible class teacher.

I’m a fantasy writer, primarily. This is my novel, The Constant Tower

This is my novel, Wind Follower

Occasionally I dabble into contemporary fantasy humor. This is a ghost story from my short story collection, Spirit Fruit

But if you want Science Fiction, here is one of my attempts. Please note, though, that Science Fiction is not something I do well. Probably because I generally don’t believe in it. For me progressive joyous Science fiction is not true, not likely to be true — whereas fantasy always has a truth to it because fantasy does not speak of the physical world.

This is How You Make a World
by Carole McDonnell

To the left was a small planet, gray, apparently lifeless, about one eighth the size of the destroyed, forsaken earth. To the right, about three million kilometers from Searcher 871, was a large planet, green, blue and gold, reminiscent of the old earth — but eight time its size— populated by humans with various stages of civilization development. The Searcher had stopped in between both planets, equidistant from both. Inside, its aging inhabitant debated the pros and cons of the terraforming the smaller planet or sending their children into the populated world.

Terraforming would take six months. Not long, considering the ship’s inhabitants had been in space for eight years, since the blighted earth had died.

But the artificially created air, food, light, was already taking its toll on the children. The damaged children, children born with limited mental and emotional and physical abilities because of the tainted foods, pharmas, and air of the old earth. Their parents too were fading, on their last legs — as the old earth maxim went.

But the other planet, the one that shone like a big aqua marble in the dark sky presented other problems. True, its inhabitants had their share of petty wars. But, as far as the aged navigators could tell, chances of atomic bombs and other damages wrought by science were not little. The planet was large, resources varied and many, and tribes — who were as varied as those in the craft— were scattered across the planet. The travelers of Searcher 871 could place their damaged children in a small wood — a natural Eden, if possible— and the children and their future descendants would not be found for hundreds of years to come. But there were fears and questions, especially among the darker-skinned inhabitants of the craft, about conquest and racial discrimination. The humanoid inhabitants of the planet had features the earthers did not have, and vice versa.

Both planets were the first they had encountered that could take on human life, their shared sun life-giving and rare for human life.

“I choose to terraform the asteroid,” Lily, the African-American woman navigator said.

“Why put our children in a world that will challenge them? We have the skill to make the asteroid suitable for them and their needs.”

“A whole year?” Denny, the Irish Captain replied. “Can they survive? Can any of us survive that long? And if we terra-form, won’t we be using up our resources even more? Our ability to recycle the air, the food, will be taxed.”

There were eighteen adults of all races, of pleasant enough dispositions. They knew how to accommodate themselves to others and to the world. Before the earth died, most parents — those who were actually fertile— had children who were “damaged” and labeled as mentally “limited” or “developmentally slow.” Yet, these children were viewed as a blessing because children themselves were so rare. The year the earth died, ten thousand ships had departed the earth, each with about five hundred crew members. Over the years, most of the crew of 871 had died, or gone stir crazy and suicidal (another American earth phrase.) It had been difficult to explain the deaths to the children — who were both young and “limited.” But the crew had managed, telling the children that the dead crew members had really gone to worlds along the way. The children — if they missed the dead at all— believed the crew’s protective lies. But now, as the remaining elders looked at each other’s wrinkled faces and at the faces of their children, they knew their limits. Death would come soon. Puberty would appear.

Lily often wondered if puberty would be natural. Would the children “know” what to do? Would “nature” take its course? Some of the children were astute enough to understand many things. They would share their knowledge no doubt. Others could barely feed themselves. But these are the last of Earth humanoids, Lily thought. Unless some others have survived, we are all that’s left. And even if others have survived, aren’t their children as wounded and “limited” as ours?

As the old travelers looked on their children, they could only come to the decision that terraforming might take a year, but their children would not survive in a world that was not specifically meant for them. Terraforming it had to be. The year went by. No longer did they see the stars passing past them (or vice versa.) No longer did they use the great craft’s power to move forward. All its energies were used to create a perfect land for their children. During that year, five of the eighteen parents died. But their children lived and were taken care of by the others. And each day, the planet took on its form.

A great dome was built around the planet — the laser technology creating a new atmosphere. The ice at the poles farthest from the sun were melted and pushed toward the equator where lakes —not deeper than a man’s foot, not wider than a mile—were built. The seeds of non-genetically-modified non-poisonous plants, the frozen larvae of insects and embryos of animals that would bow to humans were planted in green forests, cold artic poles, and deserts.

At last, the day came when the parents landed their craft on the new world. Some eighty children exited the craft. Lame, halt, mute, mentally limited — a joyous kind new breed of humans, incapable of hatred or pettiness. It was not known if the damage to their bodies and minds was mutagenic. Nor was Lily sure how long she and the old ones would live in that world. The children sat on the grass in front of her — their minds not really focused on the sex video she was showing them. But how could they focus? They had never seen a lake before, or little bunny rabbits, or sheep or bees before.

But Lily stood there and pointed to the dolls, then at the sex video. “This,” she said, hoping some would understand and would teach the others, “This is how you make a world.”
THE END

************************

Call me a cynic but here are a few facts:

One hundred years ago, the death rate from cancer or diabetes was about 1 in 100,000. Now one in three people in the US will get cancer.

Cancer, Diabetes, Arthritis, and so called degenerative diseases (which mostly attack the aged) are now affecting children with about one in ten childhood deaths attributed to cancer.

In a recent health consortium, it was declared that we are the last generation that will live longer than our parents. (Of course people have always lived to be around 70, but yeah.)

Autism now touches one in every 88 children in the US

So, as a realist, I really think health issues will preclude all kinds of positive science fiction. So I wrote this little scifi piece. I wouldn’t call it a short story because it doesn’t use any storytelling elements.

**************************************************

Here’s an interview with Carole on Compulsivereader.com:

Carole McDonnell Interview on Compulsivereader.com

So, your second book has come out? Your first was Wind Follower, right? But. . .five years between your novels?

Yeah, I really am the queen of procrastination. Watching way too many videos on youtube, or playing solitaire. However, I often do some creative procrastination. So I managed to get some good stories written during that time.

And were those stories published?

Most of them, yes. Here and there. In some very good and prestigious anthologies, and in smaller indie collections. I collected some of them and put them in a short story collection, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction by Carole McDonnell.

And they’re mostly speculative fiction?

Pretty much. With all my concerns. Race. Religion. Politicis. Feminism. Fantasy. Steamfunk. Science fiction. Fairytales. Ghost stories.

You mentioned religion and race. Those matters concern you a lot? Do you think that might put off some people? Especially Christianity. And even with racial issues. Don’t people read fantasy to escape the political stuff in the world?

My answer to the first question is that people often think they will be put off by my stories but when they finally sit down to read them they find the stories pretty inclusive. I’m pretty ambassadorial in my writing. White folks don’t feel distanced, and non-religious people don’t feel put off either. I guess if you really have an intense dislike of Christians or Black people you might find a reason to find something hateful in my stories. One reviewer on Amazon seemed to do just that. But most people see the stories as very accessible. The second answer is that people read fantasy for all kinds of reason and political or not they like seeing themselves reflected in the stories.

Your new novel is The Constant Tower? What’s it about?

It’s about a world where humans have no permanent dwelling. IF they are caught alone in the night outside of a dwelling, they are flung by the night to disparate parts of planet. In order to stay together, they live in longhouses..and these longhouses are called clans. In addition, there are towers that are somewhat sentient which gives them some power to steer their own course to their homelands. The towers are still somewht a mystery and the scientists of those clans — called “studiers of worlds”– are still discovering how the towers work. But the ultimate goal is to find a way to be able to stay rooted to one place. Some clans are more technologically advanced with their tower lore, some not. And there are people who were caught outside at night and who lost their home tower or home longhouse and awake every morning in a different place. That’s the background. The story is about a young lame (and very petulant) prince, a war between two of the larger clans, and a prophecy about the time of the end of towers.

Wow, sounds interesting. How did you come up with the idea for The Constant Tower?

I dreamed of such a world. And the characters kept coming to me so I had to write it after a while.

It’s fantasy?

Yes, it’s fantasy. Epic fantasy. Kings, battles, daggers, chieftains, men controlling women’s lives.
All that.

Men controlling women’s lives? So, is that one of the themes?

One of them, yes. But I hope it’s not in your face feminist like that. The largest theme is infighting, how there are battles in the world against great enemies and yet people in certain groups often are fighting against each other. It’s also about how the weak, the disabled, the powerless are often treated. The clan my main male character lives in is a very eugenistic warrior clan. But the hero is a lame prince with polio. Of course they don’t call it polio but that’s what it is.

You often write about warfare. Why? Because it’s epic fantasy and epic fantasy always contains wars and warriors?

Well, maybe that’s part of it. But if you look at my stories, although war is all around, I generally don’t get into describing battles. Partly because I find battle scenes hard to write but mostly it’s that they don’t interest me. I seem to always write about people on the outskirts of war, the collateral damage, people who aren’t warriors but who are somehow involved in war.

Your first book Wind Follower received much critical praise but didn’t sell many copies. Why?

I was a first time author then, and I am published by Wildside which is a small publisher. In addition, there is an element of readership in fantasy who don’t think books by women, minorities, or Christians are really good novels. It’s still around. The warfare this year in the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) about nominating of minorities and women was really horrendous. Also Wind Follower was more overtly Christian. The Constant Tower isn’t like that.

********************************************************************

This is my Author Page on Amazon

From there, you can find–

My novels:
THE CONSTANT TOWER
Paperback on Amazon

At the publisher’s website

WIND FOLLOWER

And my short story collection, Spirit Fruit

Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction ebook

Spirit Fruit Book

— “Homecoming” – Won first prize in New Mass Media’s Annual contest and was a third place winner in the annual national Contemporary Western Fiction contest.

— “Lingua Franca” – So Long Been Dreaming: Post-Colonialism in Science Fiction, edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan — Arsenal Pulp Press – October 2004.

— “Black is the color of my true love’s hair,” – Fantastic Visions III, edited by William Horner – Fantasist Enterprises – August 2005.

— Homecoming at the Borderlands Cafe – Jigsaw Nation anthology, edited by Kat Sedia – DNA Publications March 2006

The Gleaners — in Black Faery anthology

So Far — in Black Science Fiction Society anthology 2009

Changeling — in Griots edited by Milton Davis and Charles Saunders 2011

Housewarming — in When the Morning Stars Sang anthology edited by Lyndon Perry 2011

A Cry For Hire – Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, edited by Warren Lapine (Not included in this anthology)

Seeds of Bible Study On Kindle ebook

Visit her blog

Butler/Banks Blog Tour: D. K. Gaston

by , on
Apr 21, 2014

Next on the Butler/Banks Blog Tour is D. K. Gaston!

Who is D K Gaston?

Darin is the author of more than a dozen books ranging from Speculative Fiction to Crime novels. His first book was published in 2007. After serving five years in the military, he began college, earning a degree in Computer Science. Since earning his degree he’s gone on to earn two Masters degree in Technology Management and Business Administration. His experience in the military and computer sciences has shaped many of his stories and characters over the years. He also writes under the name Keith Gaston.

Taurus Moon

My most recent speculative fiction novel is Taurus Moon: Magic & Mayhem, which is the follow-up to Taurus Moon: Relic Hunter. Taurus makes his living by searching for supernatural artifacts for anyone willing to pay his price. These two novels are among my favorite because it allows me to express my humor as much as the fast-paced actions throughout the books.

Book Description

Taurus Moon: Magic & Mayhem is a fast-paced action and fantasy novel, sprinkled with humor. After saving the lives of a family about to be slaughtered by Lycans, Taurus and Gully are pulled into a realm where magic is supreme and technology is nonexistent. They must travel through harsh lands to find their way home.

The uneasy alliance between an evil sorceress queen, Morgana le Fay, and Grimes, a Lycan king, is threatened because of the relic hunter’s and mage’s presence. Taurus and Gully will have to use every trick they’ve every learned to survive the looming battle, but will it be enough?

Gaston book

Excerpt

Chapter One

Gully’s lungs burned, and cold sweat dripped down his face, but he couldn’t stop running, because stopping meant death.

Shadowing them on all fours, their stalkers were urged on with an inhuman need to slaughter. The heavy pounding of their massive paws against the frozen landscape grew ever closer. He pictured his pursuers’ tongues lolling from their mouths, salivating with anticipation. Wails filled the night; their terrifying howls alerting others of their pack that the chase was nearly over.

Gully had hoped the thick trees would offer him and the people he’d rescued, places to conceal themselves, but it wasn’t to be. The predators’ night vision could penetrate the dark with ease and their sense of smell could detect the four of them wherever they may hide.

Desperation begged that he plunge deeper into the woods. More than once, he’d seen what the claws and teeth of the predators could do to human flesh—saw the terror frozen in the eyes of their dead victims. Gully saw that same fear in the eyes of the family he was trying to protect. A hard knot had gotten trapped in his throat when the small girl glanced in his direction. Her gaze became saucers and she mouthed a silent scream.

Gully forced himself to twist his neck around to glance over his shoulder toward whatever she saw. He spotted the blood red glow of their ominous eyes first, then saw three of the beasts leap out from the darkness, their maws snapping open and close with enthusiasm as they anticipated flesh being trapped between their razor-sharp teeth.

The girl finally gave voice to her scream. It was time to stop running. Gully turned on his heels and faced the rampaging creatures. Exhausted and out of breath, he struggled to control his panic. Every fiber of his being shouted for him to continue running, but deep inside he knew that running would only get them killed. Gully shoved his fear aside, not for himself, but for the small girl and her parents.
The werewolves hastened their charge.

***

I sliced a jagged line across Darla’s neck with the silver blade from my wrist-mount to let her father know, I was serious about killing her. A thin line of warm blood trickled down her throat to her naked body. Grimes snarled, but stopped his advance toward me. His long abnormal fingernails and fangs retracted. Red menacing eyes reverted back to lifeless gray ones. As the dark brown fur slowly withdrew back into his skin, he grew smaller by several feet as he returned to his natural six-four height.
Grimes, naked and fully human, did not bother to hide his manhood, and he stared at me as if I was the one wrongly dressed for the occasion. “You are bluffing, Moon. You would not kill my daughter in cold blood,” he said not sounding entirely convinced of his words.

Under my grasp, Darla snarled like a wild animal and said, “He’s weak, father! Kill him now!”
“Take it easy, princess. No one has to be hurt here tonight,” I whispered. I spoke to her father in a louder voice with as much confidence as I could. “Make one move, Grimes, and I’ll take off her head. Trust me, I don’t bluff.”

“That’s not exactly true, sir. Since my association with you, you have, indeed, deceived your way out of five precarious situations,” Mosley said deadpan while in his holographic Idris Elba form.
Grimes, Darla and I slowly turned our gaze to the hologram. “You’re not supposed to let the bad guys know you might be bluffing, Mosley. Sort of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?” I scolded.
The hologram winced in apology then his image disappeared. Sometimes, I wondered if Mosley was with me or against me.

Grimes smiled, his teeth elongating once again. “My daughter and I shall have white wine as we dine on your flesh tonight, Moon.”

I gritted my teeth and narrowed my eyes at him. “Despite what my blabbermouth friend said, I will cut her throat!” Something in my expression or body language told him I spoke the truth, because his teeth became humanlike again.

“You dare call my daughter and me bad guys, when it was you and your conjurer friend that broke into my castle in a pitiful attempt to rob me!”

Can you believe this guy? “You’re just going to skate over the fact that, in the midst of our pitiful attempt at robbery, Gully and I saved the lives of a family you and your darling princess here, were about to make a meal of. Here’s a tidbit of information for you. Eating innocent folks definitely places you and Darla on the wrong side of righteousness.”

Darla squirmed in my grip perhaps to break my hold, but I wasn’t having that. I pressed the silver blade tighter against her neck, drawing more blood from her. “Play nice,” I whispered into her ear.
“We have to eat,” she said defensively, as if that justified everything. “How else do you expect us to live?”

I shook my head, bowled over by the question. “That’s why the world has frozen meat sections in supermarkets, princess. You and I both know it’s not a prerequisite for werewolves to feed on human flesh. Raw meat is all you need to survive.”

“We are predators. We hunt for our food,” Grimes huffed. “You have no right to be here–no right to take our prey!”

“You’re only half right, buddy,” I retorted. “I don’t have any legal right to invade your home, but I do have a noble one. I need something from you. Not to keep… only to borrow,” I said, trying to gain some sort of control over the situation. I needed to nullify them before things got worse.

Grimes stood ramrod straight and folded his arms together. “You are joking, correct? My daughter is your prisoner, and you expect me to let you borrow something from my castle?”

“Kill him, father,” Darla yelled, as she shifted slightly, readying herself to make a move.
I lifted the flat of the blade, scratched off a thin layer of skin from her neck, and then gave her a solid tap underneath the chin. “Will you shut the hell up? Grown folks are talking here.”

She didn’t like that at all.

Too late, I realized, I’d gone too far with my belittling of her.

In an instant, Darla went into full animal state, growing two feet in height with hair covering her entire body. Two inch fangs and long fingernails as sharp and strong as the finest steel knives were only seconds away from ripping into me. I stood at a crossroads in a split second of indecision—if I cut off her head, Grimes would be on top of me with a father’s fury like no other—if I did nothing, Darla would eventually get the upper hand in her stronger animal state. I hesitated a moment too long with my conundrum.

In a flash, she batted my arm away from her neck and heaved her head rearward, slamming the back of her skull hard against my forehead. In pain, I reeled backwards several steps, my vision an explosion of colors. I swung my blade wide and wild to make sure they couldn’t get close while I tried to regain focus. I could have used Gully right then and there, but he was busy getting that family Grimes and Darla had planned to eat to safety.

By the time my vision cleared, I saw that they had moved away to a safe distance. Both father and daughter were now full werewolves, and they both drooled at me with hunger in their eyes. Standing side-by-side, they looked at each other, then spoke in a series of grunts and growls, apparently debating who would get the first chunk of my flesh.

Grimes took a step back, letting Darla take the lead, an indication that they’d made their choice. I glanced over my shoulder, weighing what my chances would be if I sprinted down the corridor. There were no doors or turns, at least not until I’d ran down the long stretch for about thirty yards.

I would never make it. If I turned away to run, Darla would be on top of me before I took three steps, biting and clawing into my back. My pistols were already emptied from an earlier encounter. Though I had spare magazines, I’d never have time to reload. Left with the choice to fight, I planted my feet into a defensive posture and readied myself. One thing was in my favor—they’d decided to come at me one at a time.

Darla let out what I guessed was a laugh as she advanced toward me. She leapt to her left. Her paws pounded heavily against the left wall, as she launched herself to the wall on the opposite side. She bounded back and forth across the walls in a zigzag fashion so fast that she was almost a blur, in what I assumed was an attempt to disorientate me. I didn’t focus on her movements; it would have been impossible to track her that way. Instead, I listened to the timing of her paws as they made contact on the hard surface.

In my head, I counted down, three-two-one. Quickly dropping to one knee, I sliced my blade across the air above me. A dark shadow passed overhead at the same time. A gush of warm air and the smell of foul breath brushed against my face. An incredible weight fell on top of me. Darla and I went barrel rolling down the corridor. Her body stopped its momentum before mine. I continued rolling another few feet and landed on my back. Dizzy and aching, I lifted my head and tried to gain my bearings.

Darla was sprawled on the floor, and blood and spit overflowed from the severed jaw she worked desperately to put back together. My strike wasn’t a killing blow, but I’d nearly sliced her head in two. Darla’s supernatural restoration ability would eventually heal the wound. For the meantime, she would be out of the fight. Scrambling to my feet, I noticed my tumble with the princess had shortened the distance to the end of the corridor.

An anguished howl came from her father, who charged down the hallway. Leaping over Darla, Grimes made a beeline for me.

Already in mid-turn, I ran. Unlike Darla, her father wouldn’t be nearly as easy to subdue. He had a thousand years of fighting in armies throughout history under his belt. He also wasn’t as headstrong as her and had a habit of never underestimating his enemies. Lucky for me, Grimes wasn’t as agile or fast as his daughter. Immortal or not, he still suffered from the slow downs of aging.

I made it to the end of the hall and took a sharp left. Antique tables, vases and artwork adorned the walls. I retracted my blade, and pushed over anything I could get my hands on to slow him down. It didn’t work out as I’d hoped. Rather than duck and weave through the mayhem, he barreled through it as if there were no obstructions.

I groped in my pocket for a magazine and inserted the clip into my pistol. All the rounds were laced with silver. Stopping my run, I whirled around and raised my weapon to shoot. There was nothing behind me but smashed furniture and artwork. Grimes had disappeared. Cursing under my breath, I muttered, “This is not good.” I knew he could attack from any direction. Grimes’ castle probably had a network of secret passages running from every room and corridor. No matter which way I proceeded, I was likely to run into an ambush.

The best maneuver would be to stay where I was and try to find a way out of his little mousetrap. “Mosley, I need you,” I whispered, though I might as well have spoke with a bullhorn, knowing Grimes’ enhanced hearing in his wolf state could detect a pin drop a mile away.

“Is that absolutely necessary, sir? I mean, can’t you do this alone?” Mosley answered.

“Do we really need to have this conversation, you crazy computer? Of course it’s necessary, otherwise I wouldn’t be calling out to you for help,” I said frantically as I watched for an attack.

He let out a synthesized exhaustive breath. “Very well, sir.” Mosley appeared beside me clutching a chimney poker like a baseball bat. “How may I be of service?”

“Give me an overlay of the castle’s interior and then point out any heat signatures other than my own.”
Mosley’s form changed from Idris Elba to a three dimensional map. Red blips indicated Grimes and his daughter. Darla remained where I had left her, but her father was quickly circling around to get ahead of me if I continued down the hallway. I was about to turn in the opposite direction, heading back toward Darla when more red blips appeared on the first level of the castle.

I pointed to the new blips. “Are there any cameras on that level you can tap into for a visual?” I asked, knowing he’d already bypassed Grimes’ security systems. Before Gully and I entered the castle, I had Mosley program in a loop into all the cameras to mask our illegal entry.

“Wait one moment, sir.” The overlay faded for several seconds and then was replaced with a visual of the first floor.

My heart pounded like a drum in my chest. Things had just gone from bad to a hell of a lot worse. Entering the castle like they’d been invited to an-all-you-can-eat dinner were a dozen or so large werewolves. They headed up the front and rear stairways, and used all the elevators. That howl from Grimes earlier hadn’t been anguish over his injured daughter as I had thought. It had been a clever call for backup.

TM: Relic Hunter is available in the following formats:
Ebook, paperback, audio

TM: Magic & Mayhem is available in the following formats:
Ebooks, paperback

Visit his blog at http://dkgaston.blogspot.com/

Butler/Banks Blog Tour: Valjeanne Jeffers

by , on
Apr 19, 2014

Here’s the fourth stop on our Afrofuturistic journey, VALJEANNE JEFFERS and her paranormal erotic romance series, IMMORTAL! Check out the blurb and an excerpt below!

Immortal

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Her dreams are terrifying. In the year of our One 3075 Tundra has been at peace for 400 years. There is no racism, poverty or war. Karla is a young Indigo woman working as a successful healer.

Yet she is tormented by lucid and erotic dreams. Dreams in which she is: Immortal. Two men emerge from these phantasms: the first a Copper Shape shifter and the other a demon more dead than alive. But when this creature appears in her apartment Karla realizes that they share a lust that may one day consume her.

His will unlock a mystery. Joseph always dreamt of becoming an artist, a warrior…and a shape shifter. Now he’s dreaming of a sorceress who commands that he leave his homeland. Togther they will journey to the end of time. To a nightmarish world of revolution and magic. But will they save Tundra or perish in its destruction?

Excerpt from Immortal

SHE was in the basement again. It was pitch black, the only illumination a glowing, quarter moon etched into the floor. A burst of light split the darkness, and she moaned low in her throat.

Please, I don’t want to see anymore. . . I don’t want to look.

Yet her feet moved of their own volition, inching toward the mark. . . and the twisted bundle now lying in its center. A man lay curled upon the stone. He wasn’t breathing, and his limbs were tiny and withered. But she knew he wasn’t dead.

He wasn’t human.

The daemon opened his eyes. I’ve been sleeping. But for how long? He could feel his arms and legs, but the sensations were muted as if they’d traveled from a great distance.

Then he remembered. He’d been imprisoned – snatched from his body by the magic that had trapped him here. Even now sleep, like a delicious drug, threatened to overtake him. But he fought it away.

How many centuries would pass while he slept?

A doorway appeared in his mind and just beyond it, a tattered clump of flesh and bone. . .

Karla’s eyes flew open–the scream caught in her throat. It’s just a nightmare. I’m Ok. I’m here now, at home.

The Indigo woman turned her head to look at the bedroom console. Six- thirty glowed on the screen. She scooted out of bed, picked up a remote from the nightstand and turned off the alarm. Karla walked across the wooden floor of her living area into a kitchenette. A press of her fingers on the first sphere of a triangular pod started coffee brewing.

She filled a cup with chicory, walked back into the living area and pushed the second button on her remote, activating a blue panel beside the window. Jazz music filled the apartment. Like her bedroom console the unit kept time, transmitted holographic images and played tapes.

Using the third button, she opened the curtains. Curled upon her futon, the Indigo woman watched as the illuminae changed Topaz’s violet sky into a mellow shade of peach. She thought of the dreams.

For as far back as Karla could remember, she’d had them. Otherworldly, exquisite and always with an unsettling clarity so different from the normal phantasms she read about.

When I eat, I wake up full–and stay that way until lunchtime. If somebody hits me, it hurts like hell. . .

And her dream lover left her limp with satisfaction, even after she awoke, sure he was still beside her.

At night Karla wrote them down, pouring all of her fears and desires into the notebooks. She spent hours in the library, reading stories of reincarnation and demonic possession, searching for answers. She’d found them too–dozens of them. But none could satisfy the yearning that burned inside her.

Every time she closed her eyes to sleep they beckoned, calling to her. Mornings, she awoke like a swimmer who’d been underwater for too long, grasping for the fabric of reality–-moaning with pleasure or trembling with exhilaration.

One night they’re going to swallow me whole. I’ll never wakeup or maybe I’ll just fall through to whatever’s on the other side. . . and this new one, something’s different about it. I know the others but this one–- this one scares me so bad I’m afraid to sleep.

“What time is it?”

The top left knob of her console blinked. “The time is 7:00 am,” a pert, female voice replied.

Seven o’clock! I’d better hustle! Karla gulped down her coffee, and hurried back into the bedroom to dress.

Tehotep watched the tall, slender woman thumb through her closet. He wasn’t invisible, only dim. As long as he stayed in the shadows, she couldn’t see him. But noise couldn’t be cloaked by magic.

The Indigo woman tossed a red knit, shirt and jeans on the bed, slipped off her pajamas and walked into the bathroom. As she stepped into the shower, the nozzle automatically clicked on, spraying her body with water. He followed, standing just beyond the doorway. . .

Karla finished bathing, and Tehotep quickly moved back into the shadows – all the while devouring her with his eyes. Her skin, dewy with
moisture, looked like melting chocolate her nipples, blackberries. She toweled off her full breasts and long legs and he licked his lips imagining the things he would do with her-–to her–the endless perversions he’d force her to submit to. Things she’d come to enjoy, when she tried to please him.

The young woman walked into the bedroom. He watched her pull up her panties, hook her bra, slip her arms into the straps. Image after image flooded his mind. Tehotep felt himself harden; a soft groan escaped his lips. . .

Karla froze then stared into the corner facing her bed. It’s only a bunch of dirty clothes, you’re hearing things!

In that instant he appeared: an Indigo man with full lips, slanting onyx eyes and a shaven head. Voluminous garments hung from his muscular frame. Their eyes locked, and she gasped in recognition. The dark man smiled, nodded his head. . .

And vanished.

Karla gazed at the pile of laundry – all that remained of him–-and wondered if she’d lost her mind. With trembling hands she finished dressing her thoughts scurrying about like rats in a maze. It’s him! I didn’t imagine it! He was here, but that’s impossible–!

There was a knock at the door and she jumped. Get it together girl, that’s the twins.

She walked into the living room, picked up her remote and pointed it at the entrance. It slid open and the eight-year-old twins, Carlos Jr. and Ashley, small and brown like their mother, ran inside. Ashley’s shoulder length braids were tied off with ribbons.

“Good morning Karla,” they sang in unison, hugging her.

“Good morning love bugs. What do you want for breakfast?”

“Waffles,” said Ashley.

Carlos Jr. flapped his hand at his sister. “You always want waffles. Make mine French toast.”

When Karla and the twins’ mother had first become friends, Tatiana and Carlos were both working nights, and she’d offered to make breakfast for their children during the week. That was two years ago.

Now Tatiana worked as a beautician, although her mate still worked evening shifts at the metal emporium. But fixing meals for the twins had become a habit Karla didn’t want to break. She was crazy about them, and Topaz’s food prices were next to nothing.

“Coming right up.” The dark woman took milk and breakfast pellets from her cold box, and slid the nuggets into a diamond-shaped oven. In twenty seconds, they expanded with heat.

“Done,” the oven announced. The children sat at the table, just outside the kitchenette.

Karla served them, walked into the living area and took a cipher from the box on the coffee table. She lit it and puffed nervously; with the other hand combing her fingers through her short, wavy hair.

“Smoking is stinky,” Ashley pronounced her mouth full of waffles.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full.” How did he get in my apartment? Piss on that! How did he get out?

“Mommy’s mad at Daddy ‘cause he ain’t been home in two days!” Carlos Jr. announced, snapping her back to the present.

“Hasn’t, not ain’t and your mother probably wants to tell me about it herself,” Karla scolded gently.

“Yeah,” piped Ashley, “don’t tell family business.”

There was a knock at the door, she opened it and Tatiana strolled in: an Indigo woman with her hair coiled into tiny braids.

“Hey girl.” Tatiana greeted her.

“Hey yourself, want some coffee?”

“Definitely,” the petite woman flopped on the couch, “Kids hurry up; the transport unit will be here in minute.”

After the twins left for school, the women sat on Karla’s futon drinking coffee.

“Carlos hasn’t been home in two days.”

“Your son already told me.” Karla eyed her friend with concern.

“So what are you gonna do?”

“I don’t know.”

“You said the next time he pulled this shit, you were gonna put him out.”

Tatiana stared into her cup. “When he comes back, I’ll talk to him –really talk to him,” she mumbled. “He‘s got to get it together, or find someplace else to stay.”

“Yeah, you said that last time too.”

“Karla he’s a good man and he loves me, he’s just got issues! His daddy used to beat him up. Carlos gets depressed when he thinks about it so he smokes rush. He doesn’t do it every day–”

The dark woman gritted her teeth. “Ti, I don’t wanna hear that shit! He’s a junkie-–if he was serious about dealing with his addiction, he’d check into a clinic!”

Tatiana’s small, oval face narrowed with anger. “I’m not one of your residents so don’t preach to me, Ok? It’s my life and my man!”

“I’m not trying to preach,” Karla said softly. She touched her friend’s hand. “It’s just that you deserve better – better than him. You need a man that’s gonna be there for you all the time. Not somebody who keeps giving you love, and taking it back.”

“Look, I know what you’re saying, up here,” Tatiana tapped the side of her head with her fingertip, “but relationships aren’t simple, they’re tangled like vines. You don’t make up your mind to leave someone you love just like that.” She snapped her fingers for emphasis.

“You ever been in love?”

“Uh-huh, I have.”

“Really, with who? I mean, I’ve never seen you with anybody for more than a few months.”

“With–” a brown face appeared in her mind’s eye. Loved. Cherished. But Karla had never met him – not while she was awake. She looked sheepish. “It’s been a while.”

The Indigo woman furrowed her brow. “So long ago you don’t remember his name? Then you weren’t in love.”

Karla avoided Tatiana’s searching eyes. “I don’t wanna talk about him,” she fumbled for the words to stop her friend’s questions, “it’s too
painful.”

“Oh, it’s like that huh? I understand…Karla, he took my ID
card.”

“Damn! How’re you going to make through the week?”

The petite woman shrugged. “I’ll figure something out.” She set her cup on the table. “Thanks for the coffee.”

“You need some credits?”

“Probably. . .I’ll let you know. You better get going.”

Karla activated the door lock then watched Tatiana slowly climb the steps to her flat. How could Carlos do this to her again?

The elderly woman held the curtain back from her window. She was short with large eyes, a wide nose and full lips a shade lighter than her ebony skin. Her thick salt and pepper hair was twisted into two braids atop her head. Her calico spotted cat, Nutmeg, rubbed against her legs, meowing plaintively, but she ignored him.

Opal watched the tall, Indigo woman descend the stairs and cross the street. Once Karla was out of sight, she opened the door, walked down the hallway to the back exit and followed the brick path into her garden.

There was a pecan and cherry tree, a profusion of roses, lilacs and daises, and the bees were having their breakfast. The garden square was hemmed in by apartment buildings and faced a tool shed. She continued down the end of the path to the shed. This time Nutmeg didn’t follow and he’d ceased to beg for attention. Instead, he sat solemnly on his haunches and watched her pick up a can of oil, and a rag from beside the doorway.

Opal oiled the door hinges and wiped away the excess. She squirted more oil on the cloth and rubbed it into the door. Anyone observing this ritual would see an elderly woman polishing a tool shed. If they looked more closely, they’d notice her whispering to herself and think she was senile. And that was just fine with her.

The old woman stepped back: admiring her handiwork. She strolled up the little path, and took a seat in one of the cushioned lawn chairs beneath her trees. Nutmeg stopped harassing the bees, bounded over and wound himself around her legs.

Opal reached down and stroked his back. The illuminae was beautiful today. Perhaps she’d linger a bit and enjoy it.

Dressed in breeches and sandals, Joie rode through the forest of his ancestors. The illuminae filtered through the trees, sketching filigrees in the mulch below.

The warrior was tall, with reddish brown skin, almond eyes, and high cheekbones. Jet black hair hung loosely about his shoulders. Silver and turquoise rings dangled from his ears and wrists. Joie was half asleep, his muscular thighs loosely gripping the mare’s flanks, for she knew the way to their favorite stream better than he did.

They reached the brook and he dismounted, kneeled and splashed water upon his face and neck, finally cupping a pool in his hands to drink.

“Joseph. . .” He glanced around, instantly wary. The forest was teaming with supernatural life–-and not all of it friendly.

Among the most dangerous were Wood Sprites–forest succubae that took the form of human women to capture men. Their victims slowly starved to death, losing all grasp of time as they languished in their captor’s embrace.

A mahogany shaded woman emerged from the grove of trees to his right…

Buy Immortal TODAY!

In PAPERBACK at Valjeanne’s AUTHOR WEBSITE, or at

Amazon

About Valjeanne Jeffers

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Valjeanne is the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend, Immortal III: Stealer of Souls, and the steampunk novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch II: Clockwork (includes books 1 and 2).

Her writing has appeared in: The Obamas: Portrait of America’s New First Family, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Drumvoices Revue 20th Anniversary, and Liberated Muse: How I Freed My Soul Vol. I. She was also semi-finalist for the 2007 Rita Dove Poetry Award and she was interveiwed in 60 Years of Black Women in Horror Fiction.

Valjeanne’s fiction has appeared in Steamfunk!, Genesis: An Anthology of Black Science Fiction, Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, Possibilities, 31 Days of Steamy Mocha, and Griots II: Sisters of the Spear. She is co-owner of Q & V Affordable editing. Her two latest novels: Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective and Colony: Ascension will be released later this year.

Preview or purchase her novels at: http://www.vjeffersandqveal.com.

CONNECT WITH VALJEANNE AT:

Her BOOK WEBSITE
Her BLOG
Her TWITTER

Butler/Banks Blog Tour: Milton Davis

by , on
Apr 19, 2014

Here’s the third stop on our Afrofuturistic journey, MILTON DAVIS and his YA fantasy novel, AMBER AND THE HIDDEN CITY! Check out the blurb and an excerpt below!

Amber and the Hidden City

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Thirteen year old Amber Robinson’s life is full of changes. Her parents are sending her to a private school away from her friends, and high school looms before her. But little does she know that her biggest change awaits in a mysterious city hidden from the world for a thousand years. Why? Amber’s grandmother is a princess from this magical kingdom of Marai. She’s been summoned home to use her special abilities to select the new king but she no longer has the gift, and her daughter was never trained for the task. That leaves only one person with the ability to save the city: Amber!

But there are those who are determined that Amber never reaches Marai and they will do anything to stop her. Prepare yourself for an exciting adventure that spans from the Atlanta suburbs to the grasslands of Mali. It’s a story of a girl who discovers her hidden abilities and heritage in a way that surprises and entertains.

Excerpt from “Amber and the Hidden City”

Aisha kicked the garbage can across the alley and screamed. She struck out with her fists, imagining Bissau’s face as the target for her frustration. A sound distracted her; she turned to see a group of people staring at her. She grinned maliciously then before the eyes of her unwanted spectators she transformed into a huge grey hyena. Her maniacal laugh sent them all scurrying away; Aisha transformed back to her true self before exiting the other end of the alley.

She underestimated Amber. Whatever powers she possessed manifested the moment they landed in the motherland. She had been overconfident when she knew better and now the girl and her mother were lost in Dakar. A quick sweep of the local hotels revealed they were not checked in. They were clever; they knew it would be the first place she searched. They weren’t familiar with the city, so they wouldn’t take a chance in seeking a stranger for help. Aisha was dumbfounded. Where would a person begin to look for another in this world? She would have to start with her own knowledge then go from there. In Marai each folk claimed its own section of the city. She would look for the American section of the city, if one existed. That would be where they would most likely go if they didn’t choose a hotel. Aisha spotted a man dressed in a large purple shirt and loose pants striding down the street towards her. There was a smile on his face; Amber smiled backed then approached him.

“Excuse me sir,” she said in her sweetest tone. “Where would I find the American compound?”

The man looked puzzled. “American compound? There is no…oh, you must mean the American Embassy.”

“Yes, that is what I mean.”

The man scratched his chin. “It’s a long way from here. Come, I’m walking to my car. I’ll take you there.”

“Merci, sir! Merci!”

Aisha followed the man to a dusty vehicle. She was used to automobiles now, so she climbed into the passenger side. They pulled away quickly.

“What’s your name?” the man asked.

“Aisha.”

“Well, Aisha, your Momma should have taught you never to get in a car with a stranger.”

The man’s sinister grin was barely on his face when Aisha snatched her wicked dagger from her clothes and pressed the tip into his neck. It was her turn to grin.

“No, sir. You should be old enough to know not to try to take advantage of pretty young girls. Now take me to this American embassy.”

The man’s fearful eyes drifted down to the blade. “You won’t do it. I’m driving!”

Aisha pressed the knife into his neck just enough to draw blood. The man whimpered.

“The embassy, fool!” she spat.

The man drove to a building that flew a red, white and blue flag decorated with stars. Aisha leaned closed to her reluctant chauffeur then kissed him on the cheek.

“Thank you for the ride,” she whispered.

She nicked his neck with her knife as she exited the car. The man yelled at her and shook his fist. Aisha had already forgotten him.

The military man at the door greeted her with a smile before looking over her shoulder at the irate man.

“Is there a problem, ma’am?” he asked.

“No sir, but you are very kind to ask.”

Aisha glanced over her shoulder as her involuntary ride sped away.

“I hope you can help me, monsieur,” she said. “My friends from America came to visit me today but it seems I lost them at the airport. I think they would come to the embassy if they were lost.”

The guard looked at her skeptically. “There were two Americans that came to the embassy earlier today. You say they are your friends?”

“Yes, monsieur.”

“Yet you miss them at the airport and then come here seeking them?”

“I must make a confession,” she said. “My friends would not know me if they saw me. I was to meet them at the airport to assist them in their travels. They apparently grew impatient.”

“They’ve made other arrangements,” the guard said gruffly. “Have a nice day, ma’am.”

“Please, monsier, I must find them,” Aisha pleaded.

The guard studied her a few moments before answering.

“You can talk with the receptionist,” he said.

“Merci, monsieur. Merci.”

Aisha went to the receptionist. The woman confirmed that Amber and Alake had indeed come to the embassy, but she wasn’t at liberty to say where they were staying.

Aisha thanked her then left the embassy. So the duo had taken refuge in a local home. It would seem to be a good move, but there were few homes in Dakar that could provide two lodgers the comfort of a hotel. Her search would not be as difficult as Amber had surmised. She had no doubt she would see them very soon. She found another alley, ran then leaped into the air, her arms spread wide. She transformed into a falcon, a cry of joy escaping her mouth. Of all the creatures she could be, the birds of prey were her favorite. Their powerful bodies’ combines with their keen sight and ultimate mobility fascinated her. If there was any creature she could remain for the rest of her life, it would be such a beast.

She beat her wings, climbing higher over Dakar. It did not take her long to find the city section she sought. A line of mansions rimmed the ocean side, houses resembling the lineage of Marai. She circled, seeking obvious sign of where Amber and the others would be but there was none. They were smarter than that, but still even the most intelligent person can make mistakes, as Bissau proved in Paris. She descended and found a perch on a nearby office building. The midday heat did not bother her; she was a child of the desert and the falcon she chose to be was well adapted to the high heat. Now was time for patience. She felt sure she was in the right place. She would soon have what she wanted.

It was dusk when she saw it. A mystical flash rose from a sector of town south of her. She jumped from her perch, flying as fast as she could to the source before it waned. Someone used nganga nearby and she was sure she knew who. Despite her speed by the time she reached the source of the flash it had dissipated. Two homes filled her view, both splendid compared to the other homes in Dakar. There was only one way she could find which house was which. She transformed into her human female form, this time wearing the clothes of a local. She waited until darkness settled on the city before walking to the door of the first home. She knocked for a long while before giving up and proceeding to the next house. Aisha knocked then took on a sad expression. The door swung wide and was filled by a large man with a disapproving face.

“What do you want?” he barked.

“Something to eat,” she replied.

“No beggars here,” he said. “Now go before I call the police.”

“Just a little something,” she persisted.

The man grabbed her shirt. “Didn’t you hear me? Be gone. You’ll disturb Miss Josephine and her guests!”

Aisha’s eyes narrowed and she smiled. “Of course I will.”

Aisha’s foot sank into the man’s stomach. He dropped her and she landed on her feet. She stepped over the groaning man into the house.

“Bundu, who is it at such a late hour?”

Aisha saw a light appear on her left. Another light appeared on her right. She looked right and a saw a woman she did not recognize walking toward her as she tied her house robe belt.

“Who are you, child?” The woman demanded. “What is the meaning of…Bundu!”

The second door opened. A woman stepped out, a woman whose face was very familiar. The woman saw Aisha and her hands flew to her mouth.

A third door flew open at the top of the stairs. Bissau rushed out, his face twisted in anger. He jumped from the top of the stairs. Aisha grinned.

She waited until Bissau was almost on the floor when she transformed back into the falcon and flew by him to the room. When she transformed she stood before Amber.

“You’re journey is over,” Aisha announced.

Amber stumbled back. The necklace about her neck glowed with a strange light.

“That necklace will be mine once I’m done with you!”

She struck at Amber’s neck and was shocked when the girl blocked her blow. Her foot flashed out and Amber blocked it as well. She almost laughed when Amber punched at her face until she realized the punch was a feint. She barely avoided the swinging elbow meant for her jaw.

“You have some wrestling skills,” Aisha said. “Your Grandma taught you well.”

Aisha glanced behind her; Bissau and Aisha’s grandmother were running up the stairs.

“Time to end this!”

Aisha reached for her pouch. Amber kicked her elbow and her arm fell limp.

“Damn you, girl. I’ll…”

Bright light filled her vision as Amber’s elbow crashed against her head then everything went dark. When she opened her eyes the back of her head throbbed and Bissau, Amber and her grandmother were entering the mirror inside the room.

“No you don’t!” Aisha yelled.

She jumped at the mirror. Bissau reemerged and slammed into her, knocking her to the floor. She tried to stand but Bissau pulled her back down.

“We have unfinished business, shape shifter!” he snarled.

“Then it will remain unfinished!” Aisha reached for her pouch again. Bissau dodged her and ran toward the mirror. Aisha smiled; as soon as he opened his portal she would follow him. He did no such thing. Instead he picked up a nearby chair and smashed the mirror. Aisha screamed then fell onto Bissau, pummeling him with hands, feet, elbows and knees.

“Up the stairs!” she heard a female voice yell. “They’re up the stairs!”

Aisha halted her assault on Bissau. He lay unconscious at her feet, his beautiful face beginning to swell. She ran to the edge of the stairs and saw four uniformed men climbing up to her followed by the woman and her butler. She hissed in anger; she was back to where she started. But at least this time she had a lead. She hurried over to Bissau, grasping his arms with her hands. What she was about to do would weaken her, but she needed him, at least until she could locate Amber and her grandmother again. The transformation took longer than normal; once she was done she was a falcon again and Bissau was a mouse in her talons. She flew upward as the uniformed men reached the top of the stairs then glided out of the door into the humid night.

Buy “Amber and the Hidden City” TODAY!

About Milton:

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Milton Davis is owner of MVmedia, LLC , a micro publishing company specializing in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Sword and Soul. MVmedia’s mission is to provide speculative fiction books that represent people of color in a positive manner. Milton is the author of eight novels; his most recent The Woman of the Woods and Amber and the Hidden City. He is co-editor of four anthologies; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology and Griot: Sisters of the Spear, with Charles R. Saunders; The Ki Khanga Anthology with Balogun Ojetade and the Steamfunk! Anthology, also with Balogun Ojetade. MVmedia has also published Once Upon A Time in Afrika by Balogun Ojetade.

Milton resides in Metro Atlanta with his wife Vickie and his children Brandon and Alana.

CONNECT WITH MILTON AT:

Milton’s Website

Butler/Banks Blog Tour: Balogun Ojetade

by , on
Apr 19, 2014

He has been given a second chance at life. A second chance at revenge. He is the bridge between the Quick and the Dead. He is…THE SCYTHE!

Out of the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, a two-fisted hero rises from the grave!

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Inspired by the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, a tale of action, adventure, thrills and chills await fans of Dieselpunk, die-hard pulp fans and readers who just love a gritty story that packs a mean punch.

Enter a world in which Gangsters, Flappers, vampires, robots and the Ku Klux Klan all roam the same dark back streets; a world of grit, grime and grease; a world of hardboiled gumshoe detectives and mad scientists; a world where magic and technology compete for rule over the world.

Dieselfunk has emerged in The Scythe…and the Roaring Twenties will never seem the same!

Excerpt from “The Scythe”

“He who sleeps with an itching anus wakes up with smelly fingers.”

Ikukulu opened his eyes. Anesusu stood over him smiling. A horde of Agu stood behind him.

“Only a madman would go to sleep with his roof on fire,” Ikukulu replied, hopping to his feet.

“This is the sigil, then?” Anesusu inquired, pointing at the carving on the kuka tree.

Ikukulu nodded. “It is. It will require all of our blood to activate it.”

“Let’s get to it, then,” Anesusu said, drawing his knife.

Anesusu held his obsidian blade high above his head.

Hundreds of similar obsidian knives, with gazelle antler handles, were thrust into the air.

Ikukulu drew his coral knife. He slid the blade across his palm, rending his flesh and then pressed the leaking gash to the sigil for a few moments.

Anesusu followed him and then each warrior from amongst the Agu did the same until the sigil was covered in gore.

“The sigil is now activated and well-fed,” Anesusu said to his brethren. “The Jugu will be upon us in a few hours and we will send them to their doom. So drink; make love – preferably not with your own wife or husband, for you married warriors – and rest up…for at midday, we usher in a new era…a new world!”

A cheer erupted from the army of Agu.

Ikukulu turned away and sauntered toward the river. The ways of the Agu disgusted him, but the refusal of his own brothers and sisters to work with the Agu had forced him to ally with them alone – a dangerous undertaking, indeed, but one most necessary. He prayed that his punishment would not be too harsh and that the Abo would one day come to realize his level of sacrifice.

###

Ikukulu and Anesusu stood at the edge of the Ogun River with three hundred armored Agu behind them.

The dawn air was cool; crisp; and carried the scent of sulfur and putrid flesh.

“The Jugu are close,” Ikukulu shouted, drawing his knife.

“Swords!” Anesusu commanded.

The Agu drew their knives and pointed them skyward. A white energy, like a bolt of lightning, coursed through the obsidian blades, from base to point. A moment later, the knives expanded into broadswords.

Ikukulu knelt, slamming the pommel of his knife into the soft earth. The knife twisted; shifted; stretched. Ikukulu stood, a razor sharp, coral scythe now gripped tightly between his fists.

A muddy, marsh- green mass thundered toward them.

Ikukulu charged toward the mass, his scythe, held low, cutting a swath in the red dirt behind him.

“Forward!” Anesusu ordered, pointing his sword toward the fast approaching mass.

The army of Agu followed their leader, keeping pace with his loping gait.

As Ikukulu came closer to the mass, the monstrous forms of the Jugu became clear. Their brawny, grey-green bodies stood upon seven foot tall frames and their thick skin was scaled and ridged like that of a crocodile. Their facial features were human, but their mouths were extended, tapering into a ‘v’, like the maw of a crocodile.

The creatures roared in unison, exposing their dagger-like teeth. They raised their arms shoulder-high, baring their razor-sharp claws.

The Jugu had no one leading them, for their Mistress, Kielgek, commanded her warriors – with whom she was psychically linked – from the Abysmal Plane.

Ikukulu leapt into the fray, his scythe slashing furiously. The coral blade met scale-armored flesh and Jugu fell.

With each death of a Jugu, Kielgek cried out in agony upon her dark throne.

However, with each death of an Agu, of which there were many, she roared in ecstasy. Her warriors fighting on the Terrestrial Plane roared with her.

“Fall back!” Anesusu bellowed, turning on his heels.

The army of Agu about-faced and retreated from the battle, sprinting along the edge of the Ogun River.

Ikukulu whirled about and took off, running closely behind Anesusu.

Ikukulu could hear the Jugu galloping behind him, hot on his heels. He felt their foul breath on the back of his neck.

The Agu ran a few yards past the tree bearing the sigil and then turned to face their enemy.

Ikukulu dived forward, rolling past the tree.

The Jugu stampeded toward Ikukulu and the Agu.

Suddenly, as if the air had devoured them, the Jugu vanished.

Ikukulu turned toward the Agu. “The Jugu have been sucked back into their abhorrent world. You have done well, warriors! Now, quickly, we must fell the tree to seal the portal forever. Anesusu and I will beat back any Jugu who try to pass through until you bring the tree down.”

“Work swiftly, my brothers and sisters!” Anesusu ordered.

Ikukulu stood a few feet in front of the tree. Anesusu stood beside him.

A vertical sliver of darkness rent the air. A scaly, grey-green head emerged from it, roaring.

Ikukulu severed the Jugu’s head with an upward slash of his scythe.

Something slammed into Ikukulu’s back with the force of a battering ram. He stumbled forward, his left arm, which held his scythe, disappearing into the black sliver. Something on the other side of the sliver grabbed a hold of him, piercing the skin of his forearm in several places.

“They have my arm,” Ikukulu gasped. Cut it off, Anesusu!”

“I promised you that no harm would come to the Abo from the Agu, my friend,” Anesusu said. “I must honor the truce.”

“If you don’t sever my arm, the Jugu will pull me into their world!” Ikukulu shouted.

“I keep my promises, Ikukulu,” Anesusu replied. “I will not do you any harm.”

A strong yank pulled Ikukulu’s shoulder and half of his face into the darkness.

“You have betrayed me!” Ikukulu spat.

“To betray, you must first belong,” Anesusu snickered. “You cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Goodbye, Ikukulu.”

Ikukulu vanished from the Terrestrial World and the foul world of the Jugu welcomed him.

Buy “The Scythe” TODAY!

Get it at Roaring Lions Productions, or at

Amazon

About Balogun Ojetade

Balogun Ojetade is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link and Rite of Passage: Initiation.

He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at Chronicles of Harriet.

He is author of six novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika, two Fight Fiction, Action-Adventure novellas – A Single Link and Fist of Afrika and the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk.

Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis.

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CONNECT WITH BALOGUN AT:

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