Wednesday 28 September 2016

Q & A with Gary Ballard

Under the Amoral Bridge 
The Bridge Chronicles #1
by Gary Ballard 

Artemis Bridge is the know-to, go-to guy, the amoral fixer in 2028 Los Angeles with the connection for any illicit desire no matter how depraved. He prides himself on remaining above it all, but when an associate dies in his arms, he is burdened with a damaging video of the current mayor he can't sell or trade. With assassins dogging his every step, he has only days before the corrupt mayor is re-elected, handing Chronosoft corporation complete control. 

This taut futuristic thriller is the debut novel by Gary A. Ballard, originally published serially on the World Wide Web at

Paperback, 170 pages
Published January 31st 2008 by CreateSpace

Find it on Goodreads
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                                                                                 Read It & Reap:  March 23, 2017

I began writing things down at the age of eleven, and I haven't stopped since. I have written far too many things that have gone unpublished, from very terrible horror novels in my teens, to comics during my time at Belhaven College until finally settling on cyberpunk science fiction after graduation. I have released three novels in a cyberpunk series called The Bridge Chronicles. The Bridge Chronicles in turn is one slice of cohesive universe that began as a pen-and-paper roleplaying game.

I currently live with my beautiful wife and three very insane dogs in Mississippi, where I continue to write my novels.

Q & A with Gary Ballard

Tell us a little bit about your main characters. 
In my cyberpunk series, The Bridge Chronicles, the main protagonist is Artemis Bridge. He's a fixer in near-future Los Angeles whose nickname in the seedy underworld is The Amoral Bridge. If you need something illegal, immoral or unethical, he "knows a guy" that can get it for you. For a fee, he'll connect you with that guy. He does not touch the goods, he does not know from the goods, and he promises complete anonymity with no judgement. Of course, in the process of the series, he gets involved in a whole lot more than he would like, but that's where the fun starts for the reader.

In my Cthulhu Mythos series, The Stepping Stone Cycle, Dr. Jack Carter is a forensic psychologist who works with the FBI. The series begins with Jack waking from a fugue state in an asylum, having lost the last two years of memories. Since he was the last person to see his wife alive, he comes under suspicion for her abduction and possible murder, but he insists on his innocence. Through the process of investigating their disappearance, he discovers a conspiracy of murders tenuously connected to his case, all of which point to the creeping growth of something supernatural just out of the edges of perception.

Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?
I'm a graphic artist as well as a writer, so I design my own covers. The process is a welcome creative exercise, allowing me to do visual work as well as writing.

Describe your ideal writing spot.
I really only have one writing spot, which is my computer room/office. I tend not to work well with laptop keyboards, so sitting at a desk is really my best option. Turn on Spotify, crank an album of whatever I'm in to at the time and burn through some pages.

What is the best advice you have been given?
Think of yourself as a writer first, regardless of whether you make money writing or not. You have to get your mind set on the concept of being a writer and stick to it or else it's just a hobby.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A Planet of the Apeman! Actually that's true - I loved Planet of the Apes as a kid. As far as profession, I really did want to be a writer since I was about 11 years old and first started writing stories down on paper.

Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks?
I can read either one, and both have their strengths, but just based on convenience as well as storage, I have to say eBooks. Not killing trees to satisfy my reading desires helps as well.

If you could have any supernatural power, what would you choose and why?
I want to know everything. If it were physically possible, I'd want to read every book ever, even the crappy ones. Information and knowledge are my ultimate highs.

What book are you reading now?
I've been mostly trying to catch up on Marvel Comics last year's worth of comics but between that I'm slowly making my way through Arthur C. Clarke's 2001. My classic sci-fi knowledge is woefully inadequate and the movie version is one of my top 10 movies ever. So I owed it to myself to read the book, and it's sequels.

Monday 26 September 2016

Q & A with C.K. Stone and Tia Tormen

Hidden Design, the Prophecy
by C.K. Stone and Tia Tormen 

An ancient Prophecy, foretold millennia ago . . . 
Child of the Traitor
Conceived in Betrayal
Shall pierce the Veil
And destroy the Hidden 

Mikki Daneen is living the life she's always dreamed but she hides an extraordinary gift--the ability to perceive her clients' most intimate desires. A secret liaison brings death and destruction to Mikki's life, but she's not the only one in danger. Mikki must uncover the secrets of a culture she never knew existed, and expose the true betrayer. Will her psychic visions be able to help her find the evil that is driven relentlessly to slaughter, before it's too late?

Hidden Design, The Prophecy, is a full-length contemporary fantasy/thriller novel that contains elements of romantica.

The story is set in New York City where Mackenzie Daneen is a successful interior designer, in part because she can psychically link into the most secret desires of her special clients and give them exactly what they want. Mikki is on top of her world until an old boyfriend/FBI agent asks her to glean details on a kidnapping suspect, Seth Harkinson, by using her psychic ability. When she learns more than she bargained for, her life starts falling apart. Through Seth, she uncovers the truth; she may be the child the prophecy speaks of. She runs for her life from a demon-possessed beast that is hell-bent on hunting down and killing the innocent children who possess magical gifts; children of whom the prophecy may speak.

While she and Seth fight for their lives, they discover they have a connection that runs deeper than either of them imagined.

Kindle Edition, 302 pages
Published September 1st 2016 by Silken Slipstream

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Read It & Reap:  February 21, 2017

Tia Tormen is a writer, photographer, graphic designer, videographer, video editor, make-up artist and poet. She has also studied psychology and loves to do dream interpretation.
She spends her days working a regular job and her early mornings and evenings writing. When she isn't writing she can be found studying the ancient martial arts, Tang Soo Do Karate and Haidong Gumdo Sword or attending her writing and critique group. 

She is a mother of five and has enjoyed every insane minute.
Hidden Design, the Prophecy will be her first full length novel with co-author CK Stone.

CK Stone is a snarky, sarcastic pain in the aa--never mind. He dislikes having to write bios, but is willing to talk in person about himself for extended periods of time. Among other things, he is an actor with a few indie films and some extra work to his name; he is also a cartoonist, a writer of florid prose, assorted lyric poetry, haiku and is the producer of a mixed bag of Limericks. He has nothing published under the name “CK Stone” until now, but has several short stories published under the name on his day-job paycheck. The publications include a story in the anthology "TV Gods" and another in "A Realm Beyond," both from Fortress Publishing. There are two short stories published in “Triangulation” from Parsec INK and another piece in “Six from Parsec” His prize-winning story “The Thithshtach Diner” was also published in the ezine “Speculon.” He even has clean (!) limericks published in a chapbook. CK has also read stories for podcasts for Psuedopod.

An avid reader of science fiction and fantasy and eldritch horror for years, he is active in the SF/F community in the Pittsburgh area. He also accompanies Tia to Tang Soo Do and is certified for his black belt test in Haidong Gumdo. Other evenings, he participates in the same writing and critique group as Tia, where he spends time convincing other writers that he knows what he's doing.

His eclectic erotic journey grew out of his passionate adventures with Tia and happily, those adventures are ongoing and show no signs of slowing down. Serious about his writing, he has the scars of self-flagellation to prove it. Unfortunately for all his seriousness about writing, sometimes the world demands a lot less solemnity. Go figure. He charges at life from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania where he resides with the beautiful Tia and a variety of ghosties and ghoulies and long leggedy beasties.

1. Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
Tia: Mackenzie (Mikki) Daneen is a bit odd. She has all this intuition but hasn’t a clue about who she is or what she can do.  One minute she can be child-like and need a lot of help and support, and the next she can be strong and capable of taking on the world. I think there are many of us that can be like that. Having a character that starts out weak and only grows stronger as the story progresses, seems unreal. No one I have ever known, has been like that. We wanted to make Mikki more human and in turn, make her feel more real to the readers. We gave her good moments and bad moments and did not have her react in exactly the same manner each time or have her strength progress from being a complete weakling to being a fictionally strong person. 

CK: Tia gave a quick breakdown of Mikki and she is THE main character in the novel, but there are a lot of other characters that are just as colorful: Seth Harkinson, probably the first person to realize how much more there is to Mikki than what she even knew. Paul Wilkins, FBI agent and ex-boyfriend who found himself in the friend-zone. And Vincent Jenour, Mikki’s gay boss and probably her best friend. 

2. Who designs the covers for your books and what is that process like for you as an author?
CK: Tia designed our book cover. I had input, though. She would say, "what do you think of (blank)?" and I would answer. Then she would do what she thought best. 

3. Describe your ideal writing spot.
Tia: Right in front of my computer. I have a desktop computer, not a laptop—I hate typing on those. My computer is situated on a large desk in a home office. The space implies work, so it’s easy to sit and work without too many distractions. However, I do have a family, but I also have a door to the room. I rarely close the door because family is what keeps life interesting. I would miss out on so many interesting things to write about, if I kept that door closed. 

4. What is the best advice you have been given?
CK: That’s a difficult question to answer; there has been lots of advice. Some of the advice had included “keep writing.” And “get the first draft done, then make it pretty.” I suppose the best advice boils down from everything everyone has ever said to the statement: Sit your ass in the chair and put the words down.  Almost everything else derives from that. Yes, you have to polish, yes, you have to have a story worth telling, yes you have to submit (argh!) and yes, you have to promote, but without doing the first and most important thing--the actual writing--all the others don’t mean squat. 

5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Tia: I always wanted to be a mother and a writer and write lots of books for my lots of children. I have five — children, not books, and love them all for the unique people they have grown to become. The writing and the books had to come second because my love for my children outweighed my desire to write. I’m getting to that now. I may never write childrens books as I planned, but I am writing now, and working on a brand new, Indy publishing company that specializes in cross-genre books and stories.  I love it all; the writing, the designing and the publishing!
6. Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks?
Tia: Paperbacks, hands down. I personally don’t care for ebooks, but I have been exchange reading for reviews, and with so many authors only publishing ebook, I was forced to adapt.

CK: I’m definitely with Tia on this. I like hard-copy books. Ebooks are convenient, I suppose. You can have a whole library at your fingertips, but it doesn’t have the same frisson when I finish a good book and close the cover. One of our first readers complemented us when she said, “I honestly groaned when I realized I was on the last page [because the story was finished].” I don’t think there is the same feeling when you flick the page away on an ebook as when you put the paperback or hardback book to rest. 

7. If you could have any supernatural power, what would you choose and why?
Tia: What makes you think I don’t already have one? Lol. 

CK: Is irritating people a supernatural power? Not that that’s the one I want, but if we’re talking currently held abilities. . .

8. What book are you reading now?
Tia: A Stephen King book. Blaze (Richard Bachman).I’ve been a King fan since I was ten and have read everything of his at least once and many of them twice. My favorite King book is “The Stand.” Yes, it is long, but I have re-read that one about a dozen times. Just for the record, I did not care for the movie.  I have been reading a lot of Indy author books lately as well. 

CK: I literally just finished “Kindred,” by Octavia Butler, and now I’m reading an anthology of erotic short stories called “Stretched” edited by Tinder James, then I have “The Flesh Made Word” edited by Bernie Mojzes.  I have a couple of novels on my ‘to read list’ lined up after that. 

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Dazzled by Darkness by Erica Miles

Dazzled by Darkness: A Story of Art & Desire
by Erica Miles 

Sara is a book-smart Jewish girl who works at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. 'G' is a street-smart Latino apprentice who creates radical, in-your-face art work. When these two NY opposites meet, something clicks and wheels begin to turn. In this unique novel about mental illness, art history, and time-travel, readers will experience life in the 1960's and life during the Renaissance (and other great periods of Art History) like they never have before! The two main protagonists each escape into their own fantasies (hearing voices on the part of schizophrenic Sara; imagined interactions with Dead Master Artists, on the part of "G"), both ending up in a Compulsive-Obsessional World of Art & Desire!

Kindle Edition, 433 pages
Published November 2015 by Createspace (first published May 18th 2015)

Find it on Goodreads
Buy it on Amazon

                                                                                   Read It & Reap:  September 20, 2016

Erica Miles received her B.A. in Theater from Brooklyn College and her M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her poetry and short stories have been frequently published in the Greenwich Village Literary Review and Void Magazine. In January, 2016, her debut novel, Dazzled by Darkness: A Story of Art & Desire, was nominated as a Big City Book Club Selection for The New York Times.