Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Something Alien - a flash fic by Jason Parent



Something Alien
by
Jason Parent

Home. The word evoked peace. Its manifestation conjured more. In a rigid landscape, frozen yet alive, home meant salvation.
The modest clay walls of her adobe were arms held aloft in the promise of a welcoming embrace, baked strong by a hot sun now moons away. Snow cloaked her residence like a cowl, heaping in knee-high drifts on each side of her doorstep.
And there, it stopped. Not an errant flake dared enter. Each withered and died on her threshold along with the burdens of her world. Rayle would permit no sickness to sully her home, no disease of the heart or of the mind to enter her walls.
But today was different. Her mind could not find its balance. The sight of her children, sleeping without care or worry, blood-red reeds piled high and thick to keep them warm—an image tranquil like the lapping tongues and crackling embers of a warm fire pit—made her tremble.
Fear punishes those who cultivate it, she knew, but Rayle couldn’t help being afraid. They were coming tomorrow, they who would recondition her world, leaving only scraps of the old, vanquishing all that she was.
Would her children know her then? The world in which they’d mature would never again be the world in which they were born. Hers were the children of dying ways, too young to understand tradition, too pure to realize deceit. New marvels, shiny and magnetic, garnered more appeal than a natural history they’d barely known. Would they comprehend what made Rayle hope and sing, dance and laugh? Could they feel what made her love?
She listened to the soft breezes slipping in intervals through their pursed lips, a soothing cadence. After tomorrow, would their sleep come so easy? Rayle’s eyes blurred. Would excitement blind them to caution?
 Rayle slid free the beast that was strapped to her back and dropped it near the fire. Her day had been spent hunting game across the sky-soaked tundra, toiling hard for her reward, for their survival. She eyed her kill with pride.
She sat at her clay table and pulled her hide boots from her weary feet. Soon her children would smell the fresh meat. They would need food, but she was unable to eat. Her appetite had been slain by the worry of what lay ahead.
Change comes when strength falters, Rayle thought. I must be strong.
She shook her head, wondering what was really at stake. Preservation of a way of life? Survival in its purest sense? The questions were beyond her ability to answer. She knew that today was good and yesterday was grand and all the days before that were as they should have been. She had everything she needed. Her babies never lacked a thing.
She pounded her fist against the table. Little Kaya stirred. Rayle froze. Her daughter’s eyes drifted slowly open, then closed, another moment of decency spared.
Let them have this. Tomorrow comes too soon.
Barefoot, she tip-toed out of the hut. The snow and mud felt alive beneath her feet, seeking shelter in the curves of her nails. Stars lit up the sky, looking innocent, hiding the masters of time. Hiding them.
She looked at the red grass she had reaped and baled, sprung from land she had cultivated: her land. She admired the fishery she’d made along the stream that ran down from the mountains. Her imagination, her volition, had allowed her to be. It had always been enough.
The stream’s silvery water darted through crags and fissures. Along the shore, among rocks of gold, the night worms were wriggling. The rocks were valueless; the worms were sustenance.
Rayle approached the stream, listening to its racing waters and the calls of the many creatures that called it home. She had taken from it only what she needed—nothing more. She choked back her contempt for what would be a parasitic trespass, intruders who wanted everything, who had no understanding of harmony and balance.
Cupping her hand for a drink, one of her three fingers slid into the snow, leaving an indentation. She stared at the marking, no more than a divot in the snow. Was this all the mark she would make on her world? Was this all that would be left to remember her by? Soon, this land would belong to another, a stranger to her ways. And when the snow melted and the suns returned, how long would it be before she’d be forgotten?
Rayle sighed. Futility, she thought, the notion bringing something short of acceptance. She dug her fingers deep into the mud and laughed. Three trenches to mark my passage. The dirt will know that I once tamed it. And tomorrow, they come to tame me.
She tried to picture it, the dark and light fleshy things and their declarations of goodwill. She saw them landing in their vessels, spreading their dogmas like parents to children, to her children. Coming to craft another’s world in their image, she thought, snorting. To them it was Planet X, a world not unlike only they knew how many others. To Rayle, it was home.
“Civilization” they had called it when they made first contact. “A better way of life” they professed as they told her people how to live. They raped her society of its individuality. They destroyed what made them free.
Rayle cried for tomorrow. Behind smiling masks and false promises, the humans brought extermination.

She glanced down at the carved earth. A smile crept across her face as she thought of her children, their big green eyes always looking to her for nurturing and guidance. Her mark had been made. There, she’d be remembered.


ABOUT JASON

In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that's another story.

When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

Please visit the author on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJasonParent?ref=hl, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AuthorJasParent, or at his website, http://authorjasonparent.com/, for information regarding upcoming events or releases, or if you have any questions or comments for him.

JASON'S BOOK: SEEING EVIL

Fate in plain sight. 
Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly prefers to work alone—she’s seen as a maverick, and she still struggles privately with the death of her partner. The only person who ever sees her softer side is Michael Turcotte, a teenager she’s known since she rescued him eleven years ago from the aftermath of his parents’ murder-suicide. 
In foster care since his parents’ death, Michael is a loner who tries to fly under the bullies’ radar, but a violent assault triggers a disturbing ability to view people’s dark futures. No one believes his first vision means anything, though—not even Sam Reilly. 
When reality mimics his prediction, however, Sam isn’t the only one to take notice. A strange girl named Tessa Masterson asks Michael about her future, and what he sees sends him back to Sam—is Tessa victim or perpetrator? 
Tessa’s tangled secrets draw Michael and Sam inexorably into a deadly conflict. Sam relies on Michael, but his only advantage is the visions he never asked for. As they track a cold and calculating killer, one misstep could turn the hunters into prey.


BOOK TRAILER:





Saturday, August 29, 2015

Supporting a fellow RAP author

Harvey Chute
I recently learned that fellow Red Adept Publishing author Harvey Chute is entering hospice care. He's been battling Stage IV cancer, though you'd never know it from his amazing work (here's his wife's blog, which talks about his fight: http://www.carriesgonnawrite.blogspot.com/). In addition to KBoards, a popular forum for indie authors and e-book readers.
being a fantastic writer, Harvey is the founder of

Lynn McNamee, Red Adept's owner, is donating her earnings from sales of Harvey's book, Stone & Silt, to Harvey and his family. I remember Harvey saying, after his book was published, that it was a dream come true. It's one of my personal favorites from the Red Adept stable... This is me raving about it on this blog last year: http://zigzagtl.blogspot.com/2014/10/review-stone-silt-harvey-chute.html.


If you've got five bucks to spare, please pick up this wonderfully plotted and beautifully written YA historical mystery, about a biracial Native girl in 19th century British Columbia who must prove her father's innocence after he's falsely accused of murder. It's got rich historical details, a thrilling mystery at the core, and a fascinating depiction of life as as a child of two worlds. 16-year-old Nikaia must handle the tough realities of being the daughter of a white father and a Native mother who must fit into the settlers' world while also learning about her mother's culture. Oh, and her love interest is the son of Chinese immigrants... bonus diversity points.

It's available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more (full list of retailers on Red Adept's website - click here). I'd buy it 100 times if I could. After you read it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon to help this gorgeous book gain some visibility.

Here's the book trailer:




Friday, August 28, 2015

SPOTLIGHT: Camille and the Bears of Beisa-Drafnel / Simone Salmon




Years of deception and suppressed trauma do not prevent secrets from unraveling when parallel worlds clash, intertwining families and exposing hidden agendas.  An unwanted romance mirrored in an alternate universe has devastating consequences for an unsuspecting young woman and a mysterious stranger.

“There is a vast literary intellect behind Camille and The Bears of Beisa - Drafnel, and it belongs to author Simone Salmon. The language is transfixing, bewitching, erupting into that realm between an epic poem of breakneck pace, and the clarity and rigor of an after-action report meant only for a general’s eyes.
This story operates in many rich dimensions. It reads like a graphic novel, but without need of illustrations, as the events explode like fireworks in the mind’s eye. What an amazing piece of writing!”

Robert Blake Whitehill, Screenwriter, Author
The Ben Blackshaw Series


Here’s what the critics are saying about Drafnel:

"The structure and some of the themes of the book reminded me of the movie The Fountain, which I adored. This idea of the same person persisting in different forms across time and space, mostly through the power of deep emotional connection to other people, really connected the two pieces in my mind."
"Salmon’s use of folktales and specific stories to build out the structure of this unfamiliar world, and to link it back to Camille’s story, was a brilliant narrative device."
"Drafnel is Dune-like in the grandiose sweep of its worldbuilding. The sci-fi universe Salmon creates, Narvina, with its eight ruling clans and ornate power structures was intriguing. It was also refreshing to read a great space opera like this where the people in charge are people of color, and where the universe is a matriarchy."
BR Sanders, Clatter and Clank

“The scene's describing Catherine's sojourn in Jamaica are the strongest section(s) of the book...”
“The writing in this section is very contemporary and accurately reflects the self-confidence of young urban women who feel they're on the cusp of great things and fully in control of their personal destinies.”
“...a bit of writing that stays with you a long time.”
Merrill Chapman, Rule-Set

Excerpt 1
Narvina, Nu-century 2055

Aknanka clamps down with all her might. Her teeth tear into Sephia’s wrinkled skin, digging for chunks of flesh. They only grind against bone. A fist smashes into her cheek, jerking her head sideways. Sephia yanks her hand away right before Aknanka chomps down again. Blood gushes everywhere.
“I’m not going anywhere with you!” Aknanka’s scream rages through the interior, punching a small dent into the door. It slams shut.
Any experimenting she needs to conduct today will be done right here. And without blindfolds. The metal restraints chafe Aknanka’s wrists as she wriggles around for freedom.
“Stop fighting, Dreamer. You make this harder than it has to be.”
“Bet you’ll think before trying that again, oh Wise One!” Aknanka’s aim is accurate. Bloody sputum soils the middle of Sephia’s tunic.
A med-bot enters the room and stitches the bandages over Sephia’s wound. The pale Elder clenches her fists. Her eyes blaze to match the blood staining the floor. The med-bot’s front panel flashes, absorbing the charge from Sephia’s quelled anger. Sparks bounce across the overloaded circuits. The bot spins over to the sealed porthole and then powers down.
“These gene markers will soon confirm our suspicions, Dreamer.” Sephia’s shoulders stiffen, tugging at the hood to expose her protruding frontal lobe. Her white skull magnifies in the dimness. Her lips never move.
Na-mum Camille warned Aknanka that the Elders would spare no sympathy once they discover her true kinsatah. She followed every painstaking instruction: the implants are undetectable, even from their host.

Book Trailer:



Author Bio:
Simone Salmon, a Jamaican born New Yorker, is the mother of two sons and a jack Russell terrier. 
Simone is still working on her exit strategy from Corporate America, but in the meantime she writes novels, poetry and expands her multisensory perceptions.
She is a spiritual truth seeker who appreciates psychic phenomena and timelessness. 
Music of all kinds, warm weather, lounging on the beach, and experiencing the unknown are just a few of her most favorite things.




Excerpt 2
Jamaica, 20th Century

The food on display and the brilliant dyes of the hand-loomed textiles hanging at the market made me homesick. The marketplace crowded with vendors selling varied crafts and wares. The frenzied pitch of the hagglers echoed under the tin roofs. Voluptuous women wearing multi-colored wraps balanced huge straw baskets on cornbraided heads, while children darted through stalls with jaws stuffed of toffee candy or juggled melting snow cones with syrup-stained hands. Fruits ripening in the heat sweetened the layer of jerk pork and chicken charring over coals inside huge metal drums.
At first Miss Mattie kept me close, but as the market became more crowded her clenched fingers slackened. I searched the aisles, worried about returning home empty-handed. Failing to find any spices, I started making my way back to Miss Mattie and then noticed a young woman with a basket tucked between her knees. Loose braids stuck out from under her head scarf. Kind hazel eyes invited me forward. Curious, I bent over to check out the samples. The woman pulled me closer and stuffed a piece of cloth into my waistband.
“A gift from the Goling family, Miss. Put it in safe-keeping. This has been my honor.”
Miss Mattie swooped in at my heels in a matter of seconds. She sniffed the air several times and shoved me away from the vendor’s stall. We left thirty minutes later, my impatience to unwrap the cloth’s contents shielded.
Unpacking the supplies, I started dinner. Then, while the meal simmered, I sneaked to my room and pulled out the puffed packet. Wrapped inside were five cinnamon sticks. My smile must have been a mile wide. I decided to add them to my hideaway after Miss Mattie left for church that Sunday.
As my guardian angel instructed, I wrapped a small piece under the ribbon tied around my braid. I noticed Miss Mattie’s immediate reaction. Her harsh tone gentled and she even allowed me to eat with her at the dining table. A welcomed change, my nerves were still on guard, unsure of how long Miss Mattie’s tolerance would last. Against my better judgment, I decided to ask about Caleb and Cassandra.
“Miss Mattie, do you think I can visit with my sister and brother sometime soon?”
Growling, Miss Mattie cocked her head and then swung around to face the door. Her eyes rolled back into their sockets. Her head snapped back as she sniffed the air.
“Why are you sitting at this table?”
I warned you, Grandmother. Leave the table now!
Miss Mattie’s neck protruded as her limbs extended. Fingers mutated into claws and hind legs ripped through her lower extremities. Wiry tufts of hair sprouted all over her body. Her face contorted and elongated as saliva slimed down enlarged jowls. My hand stifled the scream roaring through my head.
Get up and walk away slowly. Do not turn your back on it. Now!

Social Media Links:

Blog: Origisims

Preorder Links:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Con Panelist Bingo

Doing panels at conventions is loads of fun. Also somewhat terrifying if you're an introvert like me, but generally a rewarding experience. Yet as with all awesome things, sometimes things aren't all sunshine and daisies. So during one of the dealer room lulls at a recent con, I made a little game as a tongue-in-cheek way to laugh at some common panelist frustrations... check it out...

Con Panelist Bingo!




Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I'm scared of my own book

Confession time: I'm scared of my own book. Well, I guess it's not really a book, since it hasn't exactly been written yet. I'm scared of the book I want to write. The book I'm supposed to be working on. How scared? Well, I'm sitting here blogging instead of writing it so...

It's a universally known fact that creative types, including (and perhaps especially) writers, are horrible procrastinators. I used to think this didn't apply to me. After all, my first Serious Book (as in, the one I wanted to get right and didn't write as a teenager) went from brainstorm to first draft in two months. And I couldn't stop working on it... Day in and day out, I was futzing and fiddling and trying to make it right. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write, until I couldn't imagine not writing. So that meant the Procrastination Curse skipped over me, right?

Turns out, it only missed me because I was too eager and clueless for it to have anything to latch onto. I had no expectations, and no one expecting anyone from me, which meant I could just mess around with my words with zero stakes involved.

Then I got published. But I still didn't know anything and remained eager and clueless... slippery enough that the old Curse didn't have anything to grasp. I knew a thing or two by now about how the editorial process and everything worked, but was still feeling my way around the industry, figuring out how the publishing world worked and all.

Then I got published again, and something happened: I started getting ambitious. I started holding myself to a higher standard than "oh, this is just for fun and I hope others happen to enjoy what I create." The writing stopped being about me having fun... It started being about the readers. I wanted to make something that lots of people would enjoy. And yes, I wanted a big house deal with a juicy advance and a cover that would get featured on all the big book blogs. I wanted a spot on mainstream bestseller lists and blurbs from famous people. I wanted it all.

And so with this added pressure on myself, I started brainstorming my next project. It became so awesome in my head that I couldn't wait to work on it. But when I finally settled down and tried to, I was paralyzed. I found every excuse possible not to do it. Because as long as it existed only in my head, it was perfect. The moment I start trying to make it real, it'll be just another Crappy First Draft.

I'm afraid I'll screw it up. I'm afraid I can't pull it off. I'm afraid it'll be disappointed in me. Yes, I just personified my own unwritten book.

Yet the longer I stew in my fears, the worse they get. I think I remember reading somewhere about this procrastination cycle of doom. You don't do something because as long as it doesn't really exist, it's perfect. But because you're not working on it, you feel like a loser. And because you feel like a loser, you don't work on it. Etc. Etc.

In other words: MARY, GET OFF BLOGGER ALREADY AND WRITE YOUR DAMN BOOK.



Friday, August 7, 2015

From the Mixed-Up Genres of Mrs. Ama Z. On

First of all, if you got the reference in the title of the is post, then *high five*. It's a play on From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, a book I read as a kid and that has stayed with me ever since (and that may be part of the reason behind my obsession with the Met Museum).

Anyway, it looks like the Mighty 'Zon, also known as Amazon.com, has decided to take my book's spooks more seriously than I do... Look what they categorized FIREDRAGON RISING as!

Genre #3 says Horror. As in Stephen King - or Stephen Kozeniewski - type chills and gore. 

That's right--HORROR. Probably because the story has monsters and ghosts? But not all monsters and ghosts are created equal. While Aurelia winds up in plenty of danger, FIREDRAGON RISING is, at its heart, a fantasy adventure, full of scary beasties and dark magic. Which is quite different from horror stories intended to, as the genre implies, evoke a sense of horror. The novella is meant to take you on a thrill ride, like a rollercoaster, not freak you out, like a haunted house.

Then again, Aurelia does get justifiably freaked out by giant monsters

But ah well. What's in a genre anyway? The lines are always changing, always blurring. And the Flynn Nightsider universe, where FIREDRAGON RISING and its prequel, THE FIREDRAGON, reside, is quite the mash-up. It has magic at its core, which makes it fantasy. It's also chock-full of supernatural spooks, like monsters and ghosts, which does encroach on horror-land (at least paranormal, which is a subset of horror). Yet it takes place in the future and is all about toppling a totalitarian government, which makes it dystopia... a kind of sci-fi. So it's got pieces of sci-fi and fantasy and horror.

Whatever genre you put her in, Aurelia's got this

So maybe Amazon's not so mixed-up after all. Especially when I remembered that I wrote this bit in Chapter 6: Darkness Closing...


      Suddenly a chill—icier, even, than the winter wind—wafted through the air, and she stopped abruptly. Something dangerous was coming, and the slight tremor in the ground beneath her confirmed it. Another freezing gust blasted toward her, causing the trees to shake and their bare branches to rattle. Beneath the gale, she heard a woman’s faint voice calling, “Hellooooo, little giiiiirl...”
      A specter. Its voice seemed to have come from all directions at once. Shuddering, Aurelia seized her swords and held them out to her sides, swinging them quickly in hopes that the silver blades would force the spirit to back off. There wasn’t anything else she could do to fight a spirit. Fear pricked at her, but she swatted it away. Specters fed on fear, drawing strength from its energy. She wouldn’t give it that advantage.
      “Helloooooo,” the specter said again, and this time its tone carried a cruel laugh.
      Aurelia looked around wildly, searching the dark and hoping she wouldn’t find anything. The more visible a specter was, the more power it wielded, which meant the weakest were as transparent as the wind while the most powerful looked almost solid. As long as this specter wasn’t strong enough to materialize, she stood a chance of escaping before it hurled her into a tree, or heaved a boulder at her head, or found some other way to kill her. Dread clawed at her insides, and she fought to keep it down.
      Then an abrupt, resounding crack shot through the night, and she sensed something huge coming at her. Realizing it was a falling tree, she leaped out of the way just before the trunk crashed into the ground. The snapping of branches peppered the air like gunfire, and she ducked as one came barreling toward her.
      As she sprang back up, her eyes caught a horrifying sight: A faintly glowing, translucent woman in a blue dress that hung in tatters from her skeletal figure, which was loosely covered in torn, gray skin. Her face was so distorted that Aurelia wondered how it had ever been human at all. One eye looked as if someone had grabbed it and its surrounding flesh, yanked it down next to the nostrils, and then filled the resulting space with an enormous gray boil. The lips appeared to have crumbled away, leaving a ragged hole around the eternal grin of a skull’s teeth.
Okay, so that's pretty horror-y, right? But does that make FIREDRAGON RISING actual horror? Let me know what you think when you're done reading it (*hint hint* *angelic smile*)... and oh, look! Here it is on Amazon! What a handy link...

FIREDRAGON RISING (A Flynn Nightsider Tale)

Sinister plots. An underground rebellion. And a treacherous road filled with monsters and enemies unknown.

It's been three months since Aurelia survived the International Challenge--an elite monster-fighting competition. And the Triumvirate has been keeping a close eye on her ever since ... as if they expect her to cause them more trouble.

They're right.

Now that she knows about the underground revolution--and the dark secrets of her own past--Aurelia is hell-bent on escaping the government's watchful gaze and joining the rebels. Finally, she's found a cause worth fighting for. A way for her kind, the Norms, to take back their freedom.

Then, when she overhears a Triumvirate official's conversation, she learns that it's even worse than she realized. The government knows about the rebels, and the rebellion. They're searching for people who sympathize with the cause. And they're coming after her next.

Suddenly the time for dreaming about the rebellion is over. Aurelia must make contact with the rebels and plot a quick escape ... before the Triumvirate has a chance to capture her. But government forces and miles of monster-filled wilderness stand between her and the rebel headquarters, and dangers she never imagined lurk in the shadows.

Before she can fight for the freedom of her people, she must achieve her own--or die trying.