Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In His Own Words - Kevin Anthony, Author of Mad Moral - Guest Post

Release Notes is honored to feature Kevin Anthony,author of Mad Moral, the first book in his Mad Series, in this "In The Author's Own Words" segment.  I hope you will enjoy his guest post on his thoughts behind his novel.

No Vampires or Werewolves Allowed

The moment I started writing my Urban Fantasy novel Mad Moral, I made the decision not to include any vampires or werewolves. I know vampires and werewolves play huge roles in many Urban Fantasy novels and many other genres and that’s the main reason I didn’t want to include them in Mad Moral.

I’m a big fan of vampires and werewolves, but I didn’t want to travel down a road that had been explored so many times. I decided to give a new set of beings time to shine in more humanizing roles, horror movie characters.

I’m aware the word “horror” instantly causes many to lose interest. My novel isn’t a horror, just inspired by the many elements and characters of horror movies.

 Imagine as I did, horror movie villain Michael Myers dropping his children off at his parents’ house for the weekend and heading out on his first date post-divorce. After a disaster date, to blow off some steam he decides to head to the nearest college campus and slash some sorority girls. He spends the morning after sipping a cup of coffee as he watches the tragedy coverage unfold on the morning news.

That visual sparked my series about a mad world where others like the horror movie villain mentioned are your friends, neighbors and lovers.

My first main character I created was a young adult named Ford Fischer. He’s a slasher, unemployed and does his best to live a straight and narrow lifestyle. I was raised by a single mother and I consider my sister my best friend, so I had to have strong female presences in my story. Ford’s mothers play huge roles and both are bystanders or victims in this mad world I created.

 Another main character is an exorcist named Sidnee Vincent whose romantic life is constantly sabotaged by pesky demons. I’m sure we all have a bit of evil in us all and she just happens to have the ability to communicate with it. My final character I included was a dreamer named Milo Amos. His identity is questioned the most by readers who haven’t started the series yet. His character enters dark nightmares every time he sleeps and must fight for his survival or risk death not only in his fantasy existence, but reality. 

This novel faced the toughest set of critics yet, teenage girls. I posted it on website mostly used by those in that age range. It sometime took a lot of convincing and me constantly explaining it wasn’t entirely about blood, gore and things that go bump-in-the-night. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from these young readers who instantly started to root for my characters to overcome the madness in their lives. I encourage putting all pre-judgments aside and giving my novel, Mad Moral, the opportunity to entertain you.

Feature Novel and Giveaway - Mad Moral by Kevin Anthony

Release Notes is happy to feature the novel, 'Mad Moral' by Kevin Anthony.  I hope you enjoy the excerpt and Kevin is giving away free copies on smashwords!  Just see the link below the excerpt and click to get your free copy!

Book Description

Mad Moral is the world of Ford Fischer, where in murderous stuffed animals, demonic possessions, gigantic creepy crawlers, knife wielding slashers and much more madness are common place. Fischer, coupled with a romantically conflicted exorcist and a dreamer who redefines night terrors, leads us through a twisted world that can be best defined as one of a kind.

The 80, 000 word, urban fantasy novel is only the beginning of the Mad series.

Mad Moral Excerpt
Chapter 4 - Comedian: Ford made his way down a narrow hallway decorated with plaques awarded to the community center, turning into the second door on the left. Inside waited familiar faces, a few socializing, few occupying themselves with their cell phones, and a pair at the snack table.
 Ford approached the low-cut, dark haired girl at the table. “Hello Lu.”
The narrowed eyed Lu faced him. “Luke brought his famous pizza bites.”
 Ford scanned the room again. “Shit, which one is Luke again?”
 Lu laughed. “He’s the youngest slasher here.” She nodded toward a corner. “That’s him.”
 Ford met eyes one the young, dark haired slasher and smiled at him.
 Luke nervously returned the gesture and looked away.
 “I wish I had his smarts to attend these meetings when I was his age,” Ford said.
 “Me too,” She stuffed her mouth with more food “But we‘re here now.”
 Ford browsed the room for the group’s leader. “Where’s Miriam?”
 Lu shrugged. “She’s not here.” She stuffed a few mini-candy bars into her jeans pockets.
 “How long has everybody been waiting?”
 “Half an hour.” Lu glanced at a wall clock near the entry door. “A few left. I’m about to leave myself.”
 “It’s not like Miriam to miss a meeting.”
 “Maybe she’s tired of the bullshit,” Lu scanned the crowd. “We all come here, sit around and lie about how we haven’t slashed in years or how we fight our will to harm others. This is all an act. I slashed a young couple three weeks ago. Be honest Ford, you’re only here to rid yourself of the guilt. Who did you slash?”
 “Nobody,” He quickly answered, hoping to create false surety.
 “You’re lying, but it’s common in this room.”
 “If this place is such a waste, why are you here?”
 “The free food and the cute guy,” She softly nudged him. “I’m talking about you.”
 “Thanks for the compliment.”
 “But now it’s mainly the food since we’ve already done the dirty.”
 Ford tasted one of the pizza bites and spit it out. “It tastes like beef jerky.”
 Lu ate a few more. “I fucking love beef jerky.”
 “How about we go check on Miriam? She would do the same.”
 “Because she’s a lonely old woman.”
 “Yes, but she lives close by anyways,” Ford dug his keys from his pocket. “I’ll drive.”
 “I suppose it’ll be more entertaining than sitting home alone petting my kitty.”
 “I thought you were allergic to cats?”
 She winked. “I am, now let’s go.”
 As he followed her, he realized what ‘kitty’ she was referring to. He played with it once, nearly a year ago. Since that moment, they remained distant friends. It was odd dating somebody who possibly had the urge to stab you in your sleep. He loaded her pink and silver bicycle into his back sea and they drove to Miriam’s house.
 The woman lived in a small trailer park that was a short drive from the downtown area. Many nights Ford skipped meetings only to receive a phone call from Miriam questioning his whereabouts. She was a kind woman even though it was rumored she slaughtered an entire sorority house back in the seventies. They arrived at the woman’s trailer, the front yard decorated with gnomes dressed as businessmen and women. The streetlights weren’t operational, the neighborhood nearly ghost town like.
 Ford and Lu exited the car and headed up to her front door. He raised his clenched fist to knock only for Lu to notice the trailer door was half-ajar. It creaked as she pushed it open, Ford stepping in first. The front yard theme continued inside. No matter where they looked, a gnome was visible. There were photos, miniature figures, dishware, and plush gnomes on her couch. Ford resisted greeting them, not accustomed to silent stuffed animals.
 Lu passed the kitchen area and headed to the bedroom door knocking. “Miriam, you here?”
 Ford stood close behind Lu. “You missed the meeting, Miriam. Are you okay?”
 Lu grabbed the door handle, sliding it sideways into the wall. Miriam’s body lay sprawled out on her bloodstained mattress, multiple stab wounds in the woman’s chest. The average person would have reacted wildly to the scene in the bedroom. Her withering face was pale, her light blue eyes opened. Ford and Lu found themselves admiring the murder scene first, mourning the loss of their group leader second.
 Lu shut the door. “The slasher has been slashed.”

Available on Smashwords – No Charge
Twitter: Mad_Moral    Email: svrkev@gmail.com

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tribute Blog Tour "In His Own Words" Interview - Back to Bataan by Jerome Charyn

Release Notes is happy to feature Jerome Charyn, the author of Back to Bataan, in a "In His Own Words" segment.  I hope you all enjoy this great interview.

1.      What are your thoughts on the explosion of popularity concerning the YA genre?

I think it might very well be that it started with Harry Potter, that young adult writers are trying to tell good stories and adults have moved into that kind of dream.

2.      You are the master of writing across a realm of different genres, what excites you about connecting with different audiences?

I’m not so sure that these are different audiences, I think we all love stories, whether we’re children or great-grand and when you move from genre to genre you are still telling a story like Scheherazade and the king is always waiting for the next tale.

3.    Your writing is so precise, yet evocative - how do you work at crafting your unique style of prose?

Everything begins and ends with the word, with the music of the sentence and as Tolstoy once said, “I’m always composing.”

4.      Being a published author for nearly 50 years, what do you think of eBooks?
I think that this is a kind of logical step as we move from the internet into eBooks. 

Publishing is changing even as we speak. I think there now will be a more complicated dance between the eBook and the printed book, and as we’ve seen recently, successes in eBooks allow the author to move into print.

5.       What would be your advice to young people who aspire to a literary career?

It’s not worth the money – only write if you’re absolutely in love with it.

6.      How much of your life is in Back to Bataan? How did you personally experience New York during World War II?

I think so much of the source of my writing comes from my childhood, I grew up during the War  - so many of the terrors and the magic of certain films have remained with me.  And all of this appears in the character of Jack.

7.      Your older brother was a detective. Did your experiences with him influence the plot?

Not really, I think all writing is crime writing. And Back to Bataan is a crime novel with a very original twist.

8.      Why did you decide to include the fascination with the famous as a theme - Gary Cooper, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc.?

These people were heroes to me as a child, particularly Eleanor Roosevelt, who was one of the most extraordinary women who ever lived, and of course as a child I fell in love with Gary Cooper’s face and with his very slow drawl, that seemed so exotic to me.

9.     Jack finds acclaim through his writing, yet feels guilty for exploiting other people (Mrs. Fink). How does a writer starting out work to bridge this gap?

You’re always cannibalizing other people and writers when you start to write, so it’s natural that Jack should be a young cannibal.

10.   How important is the New York Times in your own life? Why did you decide to make it a form of connection between Jack and the Leader?

As a child, I didn’t even know that the Times existed – I grew up in a neighborhood without newspapers and books, so that when I first fell upon the New York Times, I was very very greedy, and wanted to include it in Jack’s middle-class life.

Tribute Blog Tour Spotlight - Back to Bataan by Jerome Charyn

Release Notes is thrilled to spotlight Back to Bataan by Jerome Charyn. Please take time to enjoy the excerpt and purchasing this exciting tale. 
  Back to Bataan Summary
New York City, 1943. War is raging in Europe and the Pacific, while Jack Dalton is stuck attending Dutch Masters Day School. What Jack really wants is to enlist in the army, to fight...

Everything changes when Coco, Jack's "fiancee," throws him over for one of his classmates. Jack sees red and does something drastic. Then he runs away. Hiding out in a nearby park, Jack joins ranks with a group of vagrants and is soon under the sway of a man called the Leader, an ex-convict who is as articulate and charismatic as he is dangerous. The Leader turns Jack's world upside down. To put things right, Jack must prove himself a braver soldier than he ever imagined.
Mauricette told Harriet Godwin I was the pig of the class. I had treated her like garbage. Mauricette wouldn't answer my phone calls. She wouldn't read the notes I dropped inside her desk. But Arturo Fink kept reminding her who she was. “Fiancée,” he said. “Jack’s fiancée.”

I promised myself I wouldn't write anymore compositions, but how could I graduate from Dr. Franklin's class and join General MacArthur?

It felt lonely without a fiancée.

Mauricette began seeing Barnaby Rosenstock after school. They were holding hands and having chocolate malteds at the Sugar Bowl on Seventy-ninth Street. Fat Arturo was eating two ice-cream sodas. The Sugar Bowl is our hangout. It’s the official candy store of Dutch Masters Day School. I didn’t have money for ice-cream sodas. I didn’t have money for malteds. I'd buy a Hershey bar or some Chuckles once a week. I'd peek at the comic book rack and wonder what was happening to Captain Marvel or the Sub-Mariner. Marvel and the Sub-Mariner were already at war, fighting Japs. And when Mauricette was still my fiancée, I'd sit with her over a glass of water and treat her to some candy whenever I could. But now she was sucking malteds with Barnaby Rosenstock. I could hear her from my corner, next to the comic book rack.

“Oh, Jack Dalton,” she said. “He has a wild imagination. He likes to fling words around. He thinks half the school is going to marry him.”

She didn’t have to shame me in front of her friends. Arturo was laughing into his fat cheeks. Barnaby had a chocolate rainbow on his lips. I didn’t even bother with the comic books. Marvel would have to fight the Japs without me. I walked home.

Mama was at the factory. She makes parachutes. Sometimes she’d bring home a little piece of silk left over from one of the chutes. That's how I get my handkerchiefs. Not even Arturo with all his father’s money has a handkerchief of genuine silk. But handkerchiefs couldn’t make me feel good. Silk is only silk. I wondered about the American fliers who had their planes shot down and had to fall into the dark wearing some of that silk.

I couldn’t concentrate on my homework. It didn't seem important when you considered all the Japs and Germans out there. I hope General MacArthur takes me with him to Bataan. I’m not asking for a Purple Heart. I'm only asking to kill Japs. And if I have to die, I want to die near my dad...

Mama came home at seven. The streets from my window looked so dark, I thought the world had gone gray. I didn’t care. I wouldn’t mind going to school after midnight.

“Darling,” Mama said, “what’s wrong?”

I couldn't tell her how I lost a fiancée, because she would have figured I was insane.

“Mama, I’m blue...that's all.”

“You’re still dreaming of the Army, aren’t you? We'll have dinner and listen to the radio, my little blue boy.”

We had soup and bread and boiled potatoes and peas out of a can. It’s not Mama’s fault if meat is rationed and sugar is rationed. No one can inherit ration stamps, not even the President or Arturo’s dad.

We listened to Jack Benny. He played the violin and talked about the Japs. Mama laughed, because Jack Benny is the biggest miser in the world. He would never spend a nickel. But he told everybody to buy war bonds.

“What about you, Mr. Benny?”

Mama told me it was time for bed.

I put on my pajamas. But I didn't feel like sleeping. I dialed Mauricette’s number and let the telephone ring. Somebody picked up the phone.

“It’s me,” I said. “Jack Dalton. Your former fiancé. Coco, are you there? I wanted to—”

Mauricette hung up. And I wondered who was lonelier. The dead cowboys on Bataan, or young Jack Dalton.
Back to Bataan web site:  http://backtobataan.blogspot.com/

Jerome Charyn's Bio:

Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”

New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”

Since 1964, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.
Jerome Charyn's Facebook

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To purchase Back To Bataan or for more information:
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

New Review and Author Interview -The Brotherhood Of Piaxia by Michael Drakich

Release Notes is thrilled to feature The Brotherhood of Piaxia by Micheal Drakich.  In addition to the review, Micheal has been gracious enough to answer a few questions about his book and how it came to be.  I hope you enjoy!

 Book Synopsis

Years have passed since the overthrow of the monarchy by the Brotherhood of Warlocks and they rule Piaxia in peaceful accord. But now forces are at work to disrupt this rule from outside the Brotherhood as well as within! Follow Tarlok, Savan and Tessia as their paths intertwine, with the Brotherhood in pursuit and the powerful merchant's guild manipulating the populace for their own end.

At the author's request, I reviewed this story and I can say that I did really enjoy it.  It is well written with a wonderfully thought out plot and will leave the reader truly engaged.  One issue I had was the number of characters and at first, I was a little confused until I could sort everyone out.  This, however, does not distract from the story and the characters themselves are interesting and delightful.  It's not often that you see male characters shown with such closeness and camaraderie with each other.  That fact helped to make you really become engaged with the characters and want to see them succeed in their quest.  My only change would be maybe fewer characters so there could be more character development along with the plot.

It was so easy to become one with the story.  Everything was so vivid and I couldn't be help but be sucked into this fantasy world.  Even though this was a different universe, it was still realistic and the descriptions allowed you to visualize the different scenes and settings. This story was full of magic and fantasy and all of it was believable, well, as believable as fantasy can be!  There is also political intrigue and just a touch of romance. It was an imaginative story and my time was well spent.  If you are a fan of fantasy, I think you would enjoy this story.

To purchase this book:


In Micheal's Words: 
When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
It was about six and a half years ago. I had recently purchased a fantasy novel which was part of a series of some repute. In fact, it even had a television series made after it. After reading it I came to the conclusion it was one of the worst novels I had ever read. I thought I could do better. So on Monday, February 20, 2006, at 5:23:53 PM I sat down and began writing. I haven’t looked back since.

On average, how long does it take you to write a book?
Novels vary in length and vary in the amount of research required. Don’t forget I still have a full time job employed as other than a writer. My average time is eight to nine months.

Where do you find writing inspiration?
It’s hard to pinpoint that one. With each novel I’ve written I’ve sat down and simply started writing. I’d come up with a concept and then run with it. The development of the plot, characters and subplots would manifest as I wrote.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I’m fifty-five now, so obviously a late bloomer at this. Simple math puts me at forty-eight when I began.

What do you think makes a good story?
Characters. Readers want to emote with them, feel their struggles, their moments of anguish, and their triumphs.

Does your family (and/or close friends) know that you write and are a published author? If so, are they supportive of your efforts? 
Absolutely. A group of my close friends serve as beta readers of my novels.

Is there another sub-genre aside from your primary sub-genre that you would like to write for and why?
I consider myself a writer of speculative fiction which is much more encompassing than saying fantasy or science fiction, my two favorites. I would hate to get pegged into one specific genre. So far, I have released a science fiction novel and novelette, and now an epic fantasy. Waiting for editing is a thriller and my current WIP is another scifi. I have two more fantasies planned and would like to take a shot at a horror.

Are there any other types of fiction/literature that you enjoy reading? 
I like ancient history and have enjoyed thrillers, but the vast amount of my reading has been science fiction and fantasy.

How important is reader feedback, good or bad, to you?
I list in my author bio a request for anyone who buys one of my novels to visit again and post a review. I’ve taken an approach where there are no bogus reviews on my works. All are submitted by honest bloggers and strangers. I don’t want someone reading the reviews on my work and thinking, “Who wrote that? His mom?”
What advice, if any, do you have for aspiring authors?
Openness. My experience with most new writers is a resistance to criticism. Any critique, no matter what is written, is to be taken as one of value. It is unlikely that as a writer you will appease everyone, but you have to try.

New Review - Touched By Death by Dale Mayer

Touched by Death is an outstanding novel by Dale Mayer.  Unlike her usual novels that contain paranormal activity, this novel is sheer malevolent actions from ordinary humans.  Set in Haiti after the earthquake, the setting provides a lush but damaged background to the true horror hidden under the broken landscape.

The main character Jade Hansen, anthropologist, had been to Haiti before, immediately after the earthquake first hit.  Broken by the scenes of destruction and death around her, she lost her unborn child, her fiance and almost her sanity.  Prodded by her brother to return to face her demons, Jade joins a team going to Haiti to retrieve the bodies of an American family so they can be returned home and interred. 

Dane Carter is already in Haiti, helping the country rebuild and visiting with his brother and sister-in-law.  When he and Jade meet the sparks fly but as strange things began happening at the dig site, they both realize there are dangerous secrets that someone is willing to kill to keep buried in the mass grave.

This book had so many twists and turns and I can honestly say that the ending truly surprised me!  I was not expecting it to end the way it did so kudos to Ms. Mayer for keeping the suspense up until the ending.  There are mentions of voodoo in the story but because this is Haiti, how can there not be?  However, these do not take over the story and the evil in this story is purely human.  This was a great mystery entwined with a good love story and just enjoyable all the way around.