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Friday, January 27, 2012

The Apocalypse Gene

Here's an excerpt of The Apocalypse Gene by Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark:


Excerpt – Chapter One – The Good As Dead:  Olivya has just learned that her mother plans to upgrade their home-based hospice center to euthanasia, a service called “deliverance”.  GAD is short for “Good-As-Dead”. The first “customer” as arrived:

Deliverance. Olivya hated that slithery word, that thin euphemism. Why not call it what it was? Murder. Her legs tensed, straining to run through the front door, down the street, east to Lake Michigan, and keep on going, right into the cool deep waters. Instead, she crept to the foyer, careful to stay out of Mama's line of sight.
The new GAD lay mummy-bound in a pale blue blanket. This one had no intention of hanging out in a tranquilized coma or happily zoned on Hypno-Peace. He just wanted out. She wanted to look into the soul of this death-wisher. Did it take courage to broadcast that invitation to the Reaper? You are cordially invited to escort me to oblivion.
The sickly sweet stench of diseased flesh and stale urine wafted from the GAD. His sweat-soaked orange hair lay like worms on his forehead. Straps held his wrists to the side rails. His lips fluttered with each labored breath. She frowned. He looked just like all the others. Nothing special - shrunken, coma-tranked, and reeking. Was he a coward or a hero? The answer didn't show in his face, but she could find it in his aura.
A chill breeze rippled, raising gooseflesh on her arms. Maybe the old Reaper was already standing right there, ready to claim his prize. If she allowed herself to fully Sight, would she see Death's black robes, its bottomless eyes rimmed in bone? She wanted to curse it, spit in its hideous face. Like Papa, this newcomer had set out a welcome mat for Death.
Mama would be furious if she caught her gaping, disobeying orders to stay away. Olivya would have to hurry, but a moment was all she needed.
She closed her eyes, lifted her defenses and willed the Sight to come. Colors, shapes and lights swirled behind her lids. She compressed them into a single point of white-light deep inside her mind, then she opened her eyes.
The GAD's aura, at first vague and wavy, sharpened into view. Despite the drug-induced coma, misery rose from him in sluggish waves. The dull red of malignancy throbbed against a background of greenish-gray - similar to the other Good-As-Deads, but somehow weightier. Intuition told her to look more closely.
Faint hues darted behind that auric death-shroud, ghosts of the man's former emotions. A streak of robin's egg blue, shimmers of peach. An eerie feeling came over her. Something looked familiar about this combination of gentle pastels in this particular pattern.
The face of a smiling man rose in her mind's eye, one who had always been patient with the friendless psychic girl. Mr. Gragg. Her Seventh Grade English teacher from the old brick and mortar. Could this be him? It looked nothing like him. Mr. Gragg had been thick-muscled and robust, his hair a riot of bright orange ringlets. Yes. That pastel aura was Mr. Gragg's. She recognized the colors of his unique, unflagging kindness. Why him? Then again, so many in the world had cancer. Why not him?
Olivya caught Mama's voice in the kitchen. “Any family?”
“Not any more,” the deliveryman said.



***

Excerpt – Chapter Two - Mikah:  Mikah, an unitiated member of the Kindred clan, dreads his encounters with the Kindred leader, a demon hybrid who goes by the name of Prime . . .

It wasn't just the thought of Initiation and what it might do to him that made Mikah sick with dread. It was the fact that he'd have to be alone with Prime, close to the monster's twisted energy and constantly morphing shape, that hideous creature near enough to touch. He hated thinking about that cellar-dwelling thing, yet his presence permeated the Complex. Prime. The Ancient One. Vile. Disgusting.
Sometimes at night, Mikah would gaze out his bay window, dreaming about what it might be like to plunge through the glass and ride the gravity express straight down to eternal nothingness. He'd catch a glimpse of a lurching form among the trees, a darker dark in the shadows, oozing through the expanse of park-like grounds that joined the Complex with the shores of Lake Michigan. He’d spy Prime, the monster, slipping along the beach in random directions, as if lost.
That shape sometimes caught the moonlight, a pale glow darting among the perfectly manicured hedges at the Complex boundaries. Prime. No boogieman. Real. He'd haunted Mikah's nightmares since he was a little kid. Lately, the changes had accelerated. Prime was growing restless, leaving the Complex more and more often, capering and shrieking about the grounds.
Just a week ago, Mikah caught a rare sight of Prime inside the Complex, slinking past an open door in one of the first floor parlors. He looked thick and clumsy. Then yesterday, Mikah saw the beast again. He'd changed, become taller, oddly flexible, and lighter on his feet. Only Prime's brown, shapeless robes stayed the same, and the absurdly long black patent leather dress shoes sticking out beneath his hems.
“You should not put your attention on him,” Changarai said.
“My shield is up. How did you know I was thinking of Prime?”
“You wear the same expression you did as a toddler when Prime was near. One doesn't need psionic ability to recognize fear.”
“Yeah, well. It's just another thing that separates me from all of you. I fear him. You worship him.”
“You will too,” Changarai said. “Soon.”
No way would Mikah stay alone with that shambling horror while they're at the Gathering. Then he relaxed. He wouldn't be alone tonight. He'll be with Olivya.


***

Except – Chapter Three – That Familiar Malevolence:  This a scene from Olivya and Mikah’s first meeting face to face.  They have escaped a Shivpack, a gang of vicious street thugs, by sliding into a rushing stream that runs through the abandoned Lincoln Park Zoo . . .

They barely heard the last as the stream swept them away. After what seemed like a long time, they reached a sturdy bush on a muddy bank. They grabbed it and pulled themselves up, soaked and shivering. The grassy sides of the moat, though wet, were less steep here. Olivya scrambled to the top, Mikah close behind. Her thigh burned where the fence had caught her jeans. She peeled back the torn denim. A deep scratch, puffed and red, but the bleeding had stopped.
Mikah swiped at the splotches of mud and grass from his clothes. Olivya checked him out beneath half-lowered lids. The moonlight illuminated him, as if his strange aura attracted and magnified its glow. She'd never seen anyone so beautiful, almost pretty, but rugged and rough. His skin was the color of sweet tea, a pale creamy brown, incredibly smooth. Latino? Indian? No. Arab. Maybe Native American? No way to tell. He was all races, yet no race. Strong jaw, full lower lip, shining black hair, broad shoulders. He removed his light cotton jacket to wring it out. He wore a form-fitting black T-shirt, now wet and plastered to his smooth, wide chest. His torso V'ed down to narrow hips and long-muscled legs. She glanced back up to his face to find those periwinkle blue-violet eyes staring straight into hers.
She looked away, busily rubbed mud and grass off herself. Just great. She was supposed to be angry with him and he had just caught her, well, ogling. And she was furious at him again, doubly so, for making her feel embarrassed. He was the one who should be humiliated. After all, hadn't she just caught him in a lie? Didn't he scare her half to death with that insane light show? He didn't even care that her leg was cut, and it hurt like hell, and, and− “You little liar!” She shoved her face into Mikah's. “How do you move that way - blurry and super-quick? What the hell did you do to Ripper? And why did Mako run away like a frightened dog when you barely touched him?”
Mikah shrugged and sighed. “Olivya, it's complicated.”
“Use small words.”
“I'm not entirely human.”
Olivya ground her teeth. More lies. She watched his aura, waiting for it to turn lemon-green with deceit . . . and waited. It gleamed steady, a truthful apricot-orange. She took a step back. “O-o-okay?”
“I sensed you were special the first time our holo-sims chatted,” he said, “but I didn't realize how talented you are, how intense your Sight. I wonder if you even know.”



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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jaye Frances Guest Post


Thank you, Cade, for hosting me on Braintasia Books today. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about The Kure, and to let your readers know about my “Resolve To Read” promotion on Amazon through the month of January.
 
What would you do if an ancient and evil influence threatened both the sanity and soul of those you hold most dear? And what if you were the one who unleashed the wicked curse, and now had to find a way to protect those in its path? When one of the main characters, John Tyler, seeks an alternative remedy to heal a devastating disease that is ravaging his body, he discovers an ancient book of healing, the Kure. Driven to pursue its evil secrets, John seeks out Sarah Sheridan, the one person who fulfills the requirements of a forbidden ritual. What John doesn’t know is that he has unwittingly awakened the power of the demonic book, and both he and Sarah are about to be haunted by its malevolent control.
 
In the following excerpt, John becomes concerned with Sarah’s unusual behavior after their failed attempt to invoke the power of the ancient ritual, and he fears that she may have fallen under the sinister influence of the Kure.
 
Here’s an excerpt:
 
Sarah pulled herself tighter, her knees touching her chin as she continued to move like the pendulum of an over-wound clock.
 
He began to imagine the worst. What if her behavior was a symptom of regret? What if she had decided to end their relationship and was only indulging him until the weather would allow him to leave?
 
He did not want to consider the more heinous alternative—not because it was a lesser possibility, but because it would mean her sanity was being threatened by the same predatory demons that had pulled him into the very pit of hell. While he could no longer dispute the book’s power, he could only hope the evil and vicious overlords of the void would recognize the difference between his transgression and hers, considering her unselfish motives before extracting payment from the innocent.
 
John became increasingly uneasy as he waited, watching for a sign, a blink, a nod, a gesture of any kind—to confirm she was not under malevolent control. But her eyes remained as somber as the dark clouds, her disturbing motion as constant as the shocks of rain assaulting the roof.
 
“Sarah?”
 
Nothing. Only the unbroken sway of her body as it paced the steady surge and swell of the wind.
 
He tried again. “Sarah, are you listening? Please say something . . . anything. Just talk to me.”
 
Although there might have been a slight change in her expression—he wasn’t sure— she remained silent, giving no indication she was even aware of his presence.
 
Sarah’s behavior was completely out of character, and it forced John to consider the grim possibilities: Was her dazed detachment the result of an awakened conscience, or had her mind been abducted by demons, her soul forced into a nightmare of conscripted service to the devil?
 
Here’s a brief synopsis:
 
John Tyler, a young man in his early twenties, discovers he has contracted a ghastly affliction affecting a most sensitive part of his body. When the village doctor offers the conventional, and potentially disfiguring, treatment as the only cure, John tenaciously convinces the doctor to reveal an alternative remedy—a forbidden ritual contained within an ancient manuscript called the Kure.
 
Although initially rejecting the vile and unholy rite, John realizes, too late, that the ritual is more than a faded promise scrawled on a page of crumbling paper. And as cure quickly becomes curse, the unholy text unleashes a dark power that drives him to consider the unthinkable—a depraved and wicked act requiring the corruption of an innocent soul.
 
Ultimately, John must choose between his desperate need to arrest the plague that is destroying his body, and the virtue of the woman he loves, knowing the wrong decision could cost him his life.
 
               For a limited time, read “The Kure” for only $.99 (kindle version)
 
I always spend the last few days of December reviewing my writing plan for the coming year—to determine what’s going to receive priority and how I will budget my time to make sure I get it done. During one of those planning sessions, I noticed my husband was also putting a few goals together for the new year. When I asked him to tell me about his “resolutions,” he said that one of them was to read more, especially books that fall outside his favorite genres, “just to see what else is out there.” We began to talk about how many more people are now reading books of all kinds, primarily due to increased availability and choice of low-cost eBooks for the kindle and nook. I’m constantly reading comments from readers who decided to try a particular author’s work because it was ninety-nine cents, or in some cases, free. Then my husband asked an interesting question: “Why don’t you offer some kind of promotion to encourage more people to read The Kure, with the idea that they’ll be more inclined to read the book if you temporarily lower the price?” I really had to think about this one, but after realizing it might motivate a few more folks who are not familiar with The Kure to take a look, I
decided to do it. I’m calling it “Resolve To Read”, and it’s going on right now. Effective for the month of January, the kindle version of The Kure can be purchased for ninety-nine cents on Amazon. So if you were planning on buying a kindle version anyway, why not take advantage of the “Resolve To Read” promotion and save two bucks?
 
I’d like to conclude by sharing a few details about myself. I was born in the Midwest and grew up surrounded by traditional values and conservative attitudes (which I quickly discarded). I’ll readily admit that my life’s destination has been the result of an open mind and a curiosity about all things irreverent, and I invite visitors to my website with a friendly caveat: “Be forewarned, my life has not followed the traditional path of homemaker, wife, and mother.” When I’m not consumed by my writing, I enjoy cooking, traveling to all places tropical and “beachy” and taking pictures—lots of pictures—many of which wind up on my website. I live on the central gulf coast of Florida, sharing my home with one husband, six computers, four cameras, and several hundred pairs of shoes. 
 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dear Marvel

Dear Marvel, I am a big fan. I got into comics very recently, and thanks to the amazing selection of heroes offered by Marvel, I don't even have to look at the DC shelves in my local comic store.

I've seen every movie made by Marvel Studios, and loved almost all of them. I can't imagine not going out at midnight on opening day with my friends to see the Avengers movie this summer, but if that's what I have to do, then I'll see something else instead.

As a blogger and an overall internet lover, I couldn't live with myself if I didn't stand up against censorship, and that is the only word that can be used to sum up the SOPA and PIPA bills. They are wrong, and against the United States Constitution. What would Captain America think if he could see this, Marvel?

As much as the movies, comics, and action figures have brightened my days lately, if Marvel does not rescind its support of SOPA and PIPA, then I'll be forced to take my business elsewhere--and, no matter how many amazing powers the X-Men have, I know that the power of the purse is the only one that matters to a big corporation like Marvel. I hope that fans, new and old, won't have to use it.

I hope to still be a big fan when all of this is over.