Say Hello to R.R Virdi

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Today on Paws 4 Thought we welcome urban fantasy author, R.R . Virdi. Virdi’s Grave Report books were a couple of my favorite reads of 2016 and I look forward to reading his new release Dangerous Ways in the near future. Virdi stopped by to answer a few questions.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m an author, born and raised in Northern Virginia around muscles cars, which I restored, repaired and modded as a kid upward. I love gaming, reading, building things and tinkering on stuff. Big DIY’er and making stuff with my hands. I’m a lifelong ADHD survivor. It’s been tough 😉

When did you start writing?

Age 18, summer right before college. Have been doing it since.

I adored the Grave Reports books so far. How did you come up with the concept?

After about 4 years of trying to write epic fantasy because of course, I convinced myself I was one of those authors. 4 years taught me I sucked at it. So, I went back to what I really loved. Mythology. I needed a vehicle to deliver on all the cool mythos and culture stuff I loved. That meant urban fantasy. There was one series, and one comic close to my heart that did that best. The Dresden Files, and the Hellblazer comics.

Enter Quantum Leap and the desire to mash them together. But, as you know QL is sci fi, I needed a paranormal/metaphysical reason for a bouncing body hopping protagonist. Enter the soul.

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Do you see yourself in Vincent Graves

I see some of myself in him, and I think there’s a fair bit of me in him. But, he definitely makes a lot of choices I wouldn’t.

What should we expect to see in book 3 in the series?

Vincent continuing to grow as a person, a soul. Being pushed, tried, going through more crucibles while trying to do some good. His life getting more difficult, new enemies, new problems. New stakes.

Who are your favorite authors and what are you reading these days?

Jim Butcher, E.A. Copen, James Osiris Baldwin, Glen Cook, Neil Gaiman, off the top of my head. I’m currently reading E.A. Copen’s books.

Tell us about Dangerous Ways?

Dangerous Ways takes place in the same world as The Grave Report. New series with new people and problems. It’s about a man, immune to ageing and time, pulled into the problems of a girl who’s slipping between the cracks of reality, the paranormal and human world.

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What attracts you to urban fantasy?

The ability to draw on, and play with mythos in an urban, modern, and familiar setting. You can take the normal, the mundane, and add a layer of surreal and wow to it.

Do you have any advice to writers just starting out?

Just start. Write. Get out of your own way and permit yourself to suck. It’s okay. No one is expecting you to write like a best seller day one. As much as writing is an art/craft, it’s also a skill. It will come with practice. That’s something you can do. The quicker you start, the quicker you can work on improving.

(Great advice. DMK)

What do you like to do to relax?

Read, meditate, workout, video games, and writing.

If you could have dinner with five famous people, real or fictional who would you invite?

Harry Dresden, Dalai Lama, Batman, my mentor and best friend: Jim Hurd. And Marcus Aurelius.

(Would definitely be an interesting dinner party! DMK)

So what’s next? What are you currently working on?

I’m currently finishing up the draft of the third novel in The Grave Report.

(Cool, can’t wait to read it! – DMK)

How can readers connect with you?

Easy:

website: www.rrvirdi.com

Facebook

Amazon

Twitter: @rrvirdi

Virdi also has stories in three charity anthologies, a couple of which I also have a story in. Check them out. They’re all for wonderful causes and are filled with oodles of good writing.

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Stories for Change

Every year authors of all genres get together and donate their writing to fantastic causes. I myself have been part of several wonderful charity anthologies. All have been awesome experiences and I highly encourage my author friends on here who have yet to be part of a charity anthology to get involved. The rewards for you and the charity are immense.

Here are some recently published charity anthologies available for purchase. Each contains some amazing stories and you’re sure to be something for everyone in this list.

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Let’s start with this beautiful box set anthology in aid of autism awareness. Isn’t that cover amazing? I can’t wait to read these thirteen fantasy tales.

Ever in the After: Lift4Autism Charity Anthology
100% of the proceeds will be donated to Lift4Autism
99 cents for a limited time!

In Ever in the After, 13 authors come together to explore fantastical realms full of supernatural creatures, dark intrigue, and spells that may or may not be curses.

A must-have fantasy collection full of surprises, secrets, and strong teenagers who know what they need to do to succeed in these mystical realities.

Preorder your copy today!

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In 2016 I had stories in four charity anthologies. Here’s a run down:

The idea for Stardust, Always was conceived after the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman from cancer. A group us from Facebook’s NaNoWriMo group wanted to do something in honor of the two stars who had a profound effect on so many people’s lives. As a cancer survivor myself I was drawn to this group and was honored to donate a story to this collection.

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All proceeds from Stardust Always go to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

We’ve All Been There is a collection of memoirs from eight authors who talk about their personal struggles in the hopes of empowering others going through tough times.

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All proceeds from We’ve All Been There go to Project Semicolon.

Proceeds for the two Longest Night Watch anthologies go to Alzheimers’ research. The books were created in honor of the late and great Terry Pratchett and I have a short story in volume 2.

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The final charity anthology to which I contributed in 2016 was Rescue Me: Purrfect Companions in aid of the Cat Network. My story in this one is Cecilia’s Tale, which I hope to expand into a picture book coming out later in 2017.

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So there we have it. Six wonderful charity anthologies, all filled with compelling tales from awesome authors and all for important causes. Please pick up your copies today and share this post.

Thank you!

 

A Happy Holiday Read!

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Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you have a wonderful holiday whatever you celebrate. Here are a few holiday reads to make your day even brighter:

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Elves are dying in the North Pole, and none of their scientists can find a cure. They believe it’s a virus, unleashed by a powerful enemy. All signs point to Jack Frost, who’s been biding his time from afar. Watching. Waiting. Plotting. One brave elf, to save his kind, will venture out to meet evil in the eye. But he uncovers a mystery more dangerous than he could have ever imagined. Now Lucian must join a group of warriors and fight. Fuego; a flame-wielding pyro.Tiktok; a brilliant bomb expert, Yuriko; a deadly ninja assassin. And Bullets; a hot-headed gun aficionado. These unlikely heroes must learn to work together and defeat the rising evil. Or Christmas will soon be lost…forever.

Buy on Amazon.

99 cents for a limited time!

 

Just in time for Christmas a new release from Cleve Sylcox.

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Nine year old Steve Carlson Franklin spends a snowy night all alone at home eating popcorn, drinking Kool-Aid and reading his favorite Christmas book. It is his first night ever being left on his own and he plans to make the best of it, even if it is for a few short hours. However, the spirits of the house have a few ideas of their own. The evening turns into a hilarious disaster as Steve encounters the ghost of his grandparents and father.

Just 99 cents on Amazon!

And don’t forget to checkout the special Christmas edition of the Cleve and Steve Show!

 

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In the days before Christmas, Percy the cat decides to help the family with their decorations and celebrations. Discover in picture and rhyme what trouble he causes as the festive day draws close.

Buy on Amazon

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Winter. That wonderful time of the year, filled with celebrations, festivities galore, walks through a crisp, frosty wonderland, and nights filled with magical stories told by the fireside. Some dark, some funny, some touching, and all suitable for readers from one to ninety-two.

This collection of seasonal short stories is brought to you by up and coming authors, and all proceeds will be donated to the very special Make A Wish Foundation. Everything you find between these covers–and on them!–has been donated by the authors and editors for this charity.

So laugh, smile, or cry, and enjoy this little book of holiday magic!

This anthology contains my short tale, Esmeralda’s Chanukah.

Buy on Amazon

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A drabble is a short—very short—story. One hundred words are all that a writer can use to move the reader. In what is becoming an annual tradition, we challenged the authors in the Facebook Fiction Writers Group to create drabbles in honor of the December holiday season.
The results are as varied as the ornaments on a Christmas tree, and include drabbles touching on Christmas, Hanukkah, and Yule.

I have drabbles in both of these collections. Click the pics above to check them out. Only 99 cents each on Amazon.

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A simple ride home for Christmas turns into a nightmare when light snow rages into a full-scale blizzard. Katie and Alex find themselves stranded, and a vacant cabin becomes a haven from the storm.
Under different circumstances, time alone with Alex would be the ultimate Christmas gift, but Katie knows Alex is engaged and she must hide her growing attraction.

However, Alex harbors a secret that just might change this holiday from the worst Christmas ever, to the best.

Available in paperback, kindle or audio book.

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Get in the holiday spirit with this Christmas-themed set of short stories from some of your favorite equestrian writers! Some of the top authors in the genre have banded together to share Christmas stories from the heart. Look for best-selling authors Maggie Dana, Mary Pagones, Mara Dabrishus, Brittney Joy, Kim Ablon Whitney, Kate Lattey, and Natalie Keller Reinert — plus an all-new Canterwood Crest holiday short story from Jessica Burkhart! And in the true spirit of the holidays, all proceeds will go to benefit Old Friends, a Thoroughbred retirement home providing life-long homes for former racehorses.

On Kindle

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This one’s FREE and looks a whole lot of fun! A Christmas tale, steampunk style!

 

How about a freebie or two? Fantasy author Mike Wolff has a bunch today and tomorrow. Check it out!

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giveaway

 

Tea and Dark Chocolate – Release Day!

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It’s finally here! Pick up your copy of Tea and Dark Chocolate now available on Kindle and Paperback, make yourself a nice cup of tea and enjoy. I would love to hear what your favorite stories are, so hop on by today to the Tea and Dark Chocolate release event on Facebook and meet some cool indie authors for games, prizes and general silliness.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Facebook event

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

But wait there’s more! Want to win a paperback of Tea and Dark Chocolate? Hop on by to Goodreads and be sure to add it to your TBR list.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tea and Dark Chocolate by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Tea and Dark Chocolate

by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Giveaway ends May 31, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

And one more thing …

In honor of the release of Tea and Dark Chocolate all of the titles in the P.A.W.S. series are just 99 cents/99p this week.

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Imprisoning a Duel Discord

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Imprisoning a Duel Discord By Louise Findlay

The world is in musical order and a team of Government Agents called Harmony track down, experiment on and sometimes kill those who express the music of dissonance. Psycha, a duel Discord of Vyla and Sios is a prime lab rat to Harmony. Being able to disrupt harmony just by voice and hands alone makes her even more dangerous than the usual Discord. Will she run into trouble trying to protect her boyfriend, Caleb? Will her desire to destroy Harmony prove fatal for her? What will be left of her if she ever does get captured?

Excerpt

Psycha

What had Caleb gotten himself into this time? We were discords for music’s sake. We couldn’t strike back against Harmony if we ran, and be damned if he got caught. He was a Tara Discord not a Vyla like me. He was more vulnerable and I knew for a fact he left his Tara back at camp. Careless. That was so unlike him. He was usually methodical and paranoid. He couldn’t afford to throw his life away on a whim. I was the reckless one.

I hummed a tune to try and find his wavelength. Discords stuck out like a sore thumb, and he was a Tara. He was invisible without it, but I knew his musical signature like the back of my hand. I was almost certain I could pick something up, and I did. The three note discordant hum that was uniquely Caleb was faintly ringing in the air. I rushed to try and catch up to him. There was no way he would get captured on my watch. Cinder would kill me.

No. I caught sight of a man with the Harmony symbol on the back of his black suit. The tell-tale sign of a sharp, with two notes at the bottom and a treble clef in the middle, made him the enemy. I’d seen what happened to Discords when Harmony got a hold of them. They were mere husks of their former selves; dead and despondent inside. Their life cruelly ripped away. I would not let that happen to Caleb.

I screamed out notes at the man’s back, notes which clashed horribly. It was music to me, but the assailant recoiled, clutching his head in pain. How dare he try and take away the thing that made Caleb who he was. Being Discords defined us.

My enemy retaliated by taking out his Ko and trying to play me into submission. The harmony was excruciating to me. I was a duel Vyla/Sios Discord. Normal Discords were three parts discord and one-part harmony. I was fully Discord. I could control music with my voice and by touch alone. I hated Harmony for what they did to us, and I knew I’d be their prime lab rat.

“Caleb, run” I shouted.

I was bombarding him with musical assaults, but I had to be careful not to hit Caleb. He was powerless without his Tara. Why did he not bring it with him?

“I’m not leaving you,” he said.

Ah. Blood ran down my cheek when a note hit. Harmony and dissonance were opposites. One could hurt the other. Harmony were the government and Dissonance were the outcasts. I would make them pay for condemning us to a lifetime of running. Harmony agents lived to capture us.

“Go, you idiot. Get back to camp. You’re defenceless,” I ordered.

At last, he managed to see sense and fled. I couldn’t protect him if he was in the way. I waved a shield to protect against the agent’s next attack. Now Caleb was safe I could really let loose without fear of hurting him. I used my voice and hands in tandem to unleash a barrage of musical weapons at him. Streams of note swords and arrows flew at the enemy. He was pretty quick to keep up with me, but he couldn’t deflect everything I threw at him.

I started to hum a dissonant melody designed to sweep into his soul. I would poison his harmony with dissonance. He let out a hiss, which told me I was successful. I screamed as more musical implements of doom attacked me. I used the blood trickling down my arm in a note. Blood notes packed a mean punch. Judging by the look on his face, it did.

“Just die, Harmony bastard,” I said.

“Bring it, Discord cur,” he replied.

I screamed like a banshee. When he was distracted, I flung a spear at him. I turned his cries into a gag with a wave of my hand. His voice was grating to my ears.

Ah. A melody hit me straight in the neck and continued to constrain my throat. I tried to catch my breath, but it was impossible. I flailed around, trying to swipe him off me, but to no avail. I couldn’t let him get me. I couldn’t be captured. I finally managed to get him to relent, but my vision turned hazy as I gasped for breath.

Want to read more? Support Louise on Patreon – patreon.com/authorlouise

Louise Findlay - Dreamless Roads

Louise Findlay writes fantasy (generally short stories) and inspirational poetry. She enjoys reading and writing about mythological creatures such as angels and demons, but has a soft spot for vampires. Louise is currently in the midst of writing a vampire novella, A Spy in the Sagax Vampires, about two vampire clans whose deputies clash in a big way.

She generally writes ebooks, but she’s also part of a few anthologies which are in paperback and is working on a special secret project this year.

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Sins of the Future – Cover Reveal!

Last October we released the anthology Sins of the Past. This year we present Sins of the Future. Set in a time where anything is possible, from self-driving cars to aliens taking over the world. Each story is unique in its own light because each author took their own views and twisted them to become the stories that are featured in this anthology set to release October 31, 2015.

Sins of the Future features:

They by Jackie Pitchford

In the Driving Lane by Misha Burnett

Highly Strung by Stephen Blake

Add Green Sauce by Matt Lovell

The Verge by R.L. Andrew

The Man with Bio degradable Skin by Angela Garratt

The Nyghtmare Machine by Don Miskel

Kitty by Boyd Miles

Mercury’s Kiss by Jen Ponce

Graduation Day by Chasity Nicole

Malfeasance by Kerry E.B. Black

Return to Sigma Seven by C. Lloyd Brill

Doris by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Looking through Different Eyes by Steven Soul

The Day Everything Went Still by Leticia Toraci

Now that you know all the stories and authors featured in this amazing, futuristic anthology and you know when it’s to be released, it’s time for the big cover reveal.

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Our cover was created by the wonderful Cleve Sylcox who was an author in Sins of the Past.

Sins of the Past is available on Amazon

Shifted – Blog Tour

~10 of Today’s Hottest Authors Tell You 10 Shifted Stories~
J.L. McCoy – Brandy L. Rivers – Morgan Jane Mitchell – Emily Walker – Katie Salidas – 
V. Cantrell – Alexia Purdy – Magen McMinimy – J. Rose Alexander – Dicey Grenor
ON SALE FOR 99C – AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY
Amazon US I UK I CA I AU
This amazing anthology includes:
Blood Moon (SMVS, #5.5) by J.L. McCoy


~~~
Pretty Little Werewolf by Katie Salidas
 ~~~
Wolf’s Fire by Dicey Grenor
 ~~~
Primal Hunger by Magen McMinimy
 ~~~
Moonlight Calling by J. Rose Alexander 
~~~
In Too Deep by Brandy L Rivers 
~~~
The Shift by Emily Walker
~~~
More Than Survival by V. Cantrell 
~~~
Ardent (The ArcKnight Chronicles) by Alexia Purdy 
~~~
Twice Bitten by Morgan Jane Mitchell 

Sins of the Past – a review from the Bookie Monster

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Anthologies are a wonderful way to get to know authors you’ve never read. The very nature of anthologies means that you’ll find some stories that leave you shivering, some that are just fine, and a few that just aren’t for you. Sins of the Past is an anthology that focuses on the horrors of the past, and the hidden forces that didn’t make the history books.

Read the rest of the review here and enter the giveaway for a chance to win an ebook of Sins of the Past.

Or pick up your copy today from Amazon or a signed copy directly from me.

Sins of the Past – Cleve Sylcox

Cleve

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born the youngest of thirteen children. My mother was pure Irish. Her father was a Newell and her mother a Sample. She had pure hazel eyes and temper to match. My father was from a line of tough rugged country folk who were self-reliant but bonded in tight family clusters. Ironically, my father was born on 12/13/12. I was his thirteenth child, born 2/9/58. We were not rich, but not dirt poor. My father by the time I was born worked at McDonald Douglas in St. Louis working as an assembler. We didn’t have a lot of anything, but what we did have was a lot of was books. There were all kinds and I loved reading Life and Time magazines along with the encyclopedias given to us from various families. I fell in love with Sci-Fi and Mysteries. No particular author. My bedtime was ten o’clock on school nights and I slept in a corner of the basement containing a bed, chest of drawers, and nightstand with a light. I would stay up for hours reading whatever I could find. I wrote most of my earlier stories in school, and did not publish a book until 2004. Scants (later to become Nucor) was 526 pages of Sci-Fi excitement. Since then I have written sixteen more in various genres. 

  1. Who are your favorite authors?

 I do not have a favorite author. I’ve read many from Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and many other popular authors. I read like to read in various genres.

 If I had to choose one over them all it would be M.J. Pike. She writes romantic ghost stories with an elegant twist.

 Sci-Fi I like, Saxton Andrew, T.R. Harris, Suzy Stewart Dubolt, and Michael Thomas.

Detective Mystery Noir – Russell Blake, Billy Kring, Donna Blanchard McNicol, Stephen Thomas, Kathleen Steed, Nick Russell, George Weir, and Jason Deas.

Fantasy – Robert Thomas, John Daulton, Randall Morris, C. Crag Colman, and John Salter.

Horror— Brandon Hale, Corrie Fischer Stout, Shaorn Delarosa, Kate Aaron, Chris Ward, and Andy Downs.

 And this list is the tip of the ice berg- AJ Rose, Valrie Chandler, Steven Hammond, Nick Pesci, Cameron Lowe, Ella Medler, KS Haigwood, Holli Marie Spaulding, Jay Allan, Michael Edwards, Nick Thomas, Robbie Taylor, Miranda Stork, Ben Cassidy, Beck Bee, Sam Neumann, Pinkston, Eddie Boggs, Jess Mountifield, Colleen Hoover, Dale Roberts, Karen Davison, Mike Meyer, Len Du Randt, Albert Benson, Liz Miller, James Rozoff, Molly Pendelton, Carol Cadoo, Mona Mellissa, Jacques Duvoisin, Stephen Arsenault, Suzie O’Connell, Scott Langrel, Lindsay Sabbarton, Shirley Bouget, Nancy Furner, Elizabeth Moore, Stephen Scott, Newsome, Debbie Manber Kupfer, and so many others.

 If you write it, I will read it. 

  1. Tell us a bit about your story, The Innocent?

The Innocent is about a returning Vietnam War hero who finds home not so different from the jungles of Southeast Asia. A mob awaits his return and seeks revenge for the massacre of My Lai. It is a first person narrative in the voice of the returning GI. The first draft contained a lot of cursing in an attempt to express a true representation of a battle harden soldier returning home. The language was toned down for the sake of the anthology. I enjoyed the research and learned far more than I wished too and even though this was a short piece, I hold it dear to my heart. 

  1. If you could travel back in time to any place and period in the past where and when would you go?

If I could go undetectable from those I was observing, then break out the cart-blanche and take me back to all the events with a brief rest bit to research and chronologically record each event free from government or scholarly scrutiny. If I had to choose one though, it would be, beyond a doubt, the time of Jesus, from birth until the day of ascension.  

  1. What attracts you to writing horror?

Back in the days of black and white television, vampires, werewolves, and Frankenstein ruled the night. Sometimes, I would sneak upstairs and flip on the TV to watch the late, late show on our local CBS channel. They always had something exciting like The Blob, The Thing, The Mummy, The Hand, The Fly, and of course the before mentioned staples. I was addicted to being scared and in turn wanted everyone to be scared just like me. Boo…  

  1. Tell us a little about your books. I see you like to delve into many different genres.

Yes, I like writing in various forms. I am hyperactive and have a habit of wandering from one genre to another. I get bored easily. So, I write some on Nucor and finish the saga, then write on David Winter Mysteries, then on another project. It is a constant cycle of writing and creativity. I am never bored with writing, but with the story line and switching from one to another helps me to maintain focus and my writing is always fresh and clean, rather than becoming old and stagnant. I never want to become someone who writes just for the sake of completing a series or because he feels he has to. I love writing and hope that alongside me on my deathbed there is my laptop opened to a story requiring my attention. Of course my wife and sons would there be too, I hope. 

  1. Are you planning to write a story for Sins of the Future? Any hints about your story?

No, I have three projects in the works and I have very little time to devote to any anthology. However, I will be making the cover. 

  1. What do you like to do to relax?

I watch Jeopardy, read, do yard work, cook, take long drives, fish, walk along the rivers, pet my dog, talk with my wife and make love to her. I have also been known to go up on the roof at night and just lay there looking up at the stars. I dislike television but love movies. 

  1. What are you currently working on?

I have several projects at various stages of completion.

One is the fourth book of the Nucor series called, Nucor—Season of the Androids. I am five chapters into it and I am so excited and anxious to see this saga unfold. Really is a thriller. 

 The first book of the David Winters Mystery series, Fly Paper Soup is in edit with outstanding reviews from all who have beta read it. (I’m one of those beta readers, and confirm it’s a wonderful story – DMK) The second book, Recluse is in production and it promises to be a great companion to book one.

  Then there is Cern – The God Particle. I cannot tell you how enthusiastic I am about this story. It has everything from espionage, to demon elfs, LSD, ENT, Et’s, So much coming at me so fast that sometimes I can’t pull myself away from it.

 I just launched Nucor-Invasion in Audiobook form. Soon, I will have Death in Gravely Falls on Audiobook.

At the moment that is all I have going.  

CleveBooks

 

  1. How can readers connect with you?

There are several ways.

My Blog— http://www.csylcox.com

Facebook— https://www.facebook.com/clevesylcoxauthor?ref=bookmarks

Twitter— @csylcox

Amazon— http://www.amazon.com/Cleve-Sylcox/e/B00GW8AECS

Banes and Noble— http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/cleve+sylcox/_/N-8q8/?No=0&Nrpp=40

Itunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/cleve-sylcox/id509703132?mt=11

 

Or you can email me for a signed copy cssylcox@charter.net

Want to read a little of Cleve’s story, The Innocent? Sure you do!

November 1969

A plane lands at LAX on a cool November morning. GIs are returning home after fighting in Vietnam. They look forward to home cooked meals, seeing love ones, and sleeping on a soft mattress. To some though, returning home is nothing more than a continuation of a war they hate. Take Reuben Weston for instance. He served his country well from his enlistment in Nov. 1966 to his discharge in Nov. 1969. In that stretch he was wounded three times in Vietnam, rose to Platoon Sergeant, saved countless lives, and was well respected among the troops despite his rough and tough attitude. This story could very well be titled, “In the wrong place at the wrong time.” For Sergeant Weston, it is just that.

  • §§

The wind whips at my back as I debark the 707 at LAX. I wear khakis. It is the uniform of the day, my last day, because as soon as my foot touches the asphalt I will be a civilian. My name tag above my right pocket reflects the sun. Reuben Weston, it reads. A damn good name. Two of my three medals, Distinguished Service, and a Purple Heart, flop around beneath my service ribbons above my left pocket as I make my way down the ramp.

I am the first black soldier ever awarded the third medal, the prestigious medal of Blackism – made from a beer can top cut into the shape of a middle finger with a makeshift pin glued to the back. It would be the last beer I’d drink in the bush. My platoon gave it to me the last night I was with ’em, in Damn Nam. It means more to me than the other two put together. Blackism, I must’ve been pretty drunk to come up with that.

To say I’m glad to be off that rotten plane is an understatement. Civilian jets suck. I’m a GI, oval drab to the bone. Why they flew me home in one of those is beyond me. Meat job General’s idea I bet, maybe some congressmen’s idea of rewarding our fine soldiers for a job well done? Well, screw’em! I’m home now and they can have their uniform.

I earned my stripes, every last stinking one of ’em. Arrived in Nam as a, ‘right off the farm, piece of know-nothing crap.’ I was green but learned quick. No thanks to those politicians in D.C. What’s the matter with all those morons in DC?  Really, what isn’t wrong with ’em?

They sent us off to the land of the gooks, and we got our ass kicked because of bureaucratic bull. Don’t fire until fired upon, don’t cross this line and that. Stay put until we tell you to advance. Who the hell is ‘we’, anyhow?

Wasn’t like that in the jungle, no sir. We were the judge and jury of the gooks. The giants rule the land. We are the conquering heroes who drove the black pajamas across the DMZ into Laos and Cambodia. The south was clean in ‘66. Then those cameras started following us around. Hell, we tossed one camera man and his gear into the swamps. None of those gooks were ever gonna escape back north, at least not on our watch.

In ‘67 those regulations came down and tied our hands. We couldn’t fight like aggressors anymore. We couldn’t fight like we had too. They stuck us in camps deep in the jungle and on top of hills. Nothing happened for weeks at a time, nothing. We smoked pot, and screwed every whore we could, some of the guys were bangin’ each other. We called ’em Jill’s, and the name stuck.

Some of the lucky units saw some action. They pushed the gooks to the DMZ and our armors pounded them for three straight days. The Ho Chi Min trail across the DMZ was blown to bits, and then the aerial attacks bombed them everyday for weeks. I saw a tank bounce three feet off the ground two miles away from the damn trail. Three feet! It didn’t matter. At night those little bush babies were filling in the holes.

Our patrols reported large movements of men and ammo to the south along the trail. By the time we got there, they were gone. They crawled into their holes like rats or vanished into the jungle like ghosts.

Jan of ’68, the Tet Offensive…gooks were all around us and we didn’t even know it. All hell broke loose on January 30, 1968. The Tet Offensive began.

Early in the morning they attacked everywhere in South Vietnam. There was supposed to be a cease-fire ’cause of New Year or some crap. I don’t know. We got our butts handed to us. Those bastards were in the wire…in the wire! All over us. I fought till early morning, hand to hand. I had blood all over me and none of it mine.

A lot of good soldiers died that night. It didn’t stop there. In some areas their attacks were like bugs hitting a windshield, they didn’t make a dent. Other places they were fleas on a hound’s back. Saigon and Hue, those two took a long time, nearly a month, to clean out. The Cong even held the US Embassy in Saigon for eight hours.

Near the end of February, they assigned me to a bunch of greenhorn rookies. Charlie Company arrived in theater, December of ‘67, they hadn’t seen any action. Tet was popping all over the country in Jan of ’68 and this unit missed out, lucky dicks. I was assigned as a Platoon Sergeant and given orders to sweep the jungles west of a group of villages near Mai Lai.

I looked at this ragtag group of potheads and said move out. Worst bunch I had ever seen. Simple shit-like quiet maneuvers, securing gun straps and no smoking, they couldn’t do. Drunk, high, they were the walking dead and didn’t know it.

War has a way of cleaning the gunk out of the can. By mid-March, 28 of em’ were wounded because of mines or booby-traps, and five dead.

Cong never came knocking. That’s what frustrated us and made us angry. Charlie Company was sent to find gooks and Cong, and kill as many of the black pajama’s as we could. All we found were tunnels and villages that we knew, we just knew, were Cong but we couldn’t prove it, and we moved on. These villages, our intelligence said, had VC crawling all over them but we found nothing. Not even a dirty black pajama.

Then intelligence told us of a hold-up of Viet Cong in and around a tiny village of Mai Lai. We were given orders like I had never seen before. They said kill all suspected Viet Cong. Even civilians, if they ran, would be considered hostile. Our unit would follow the main assault. We swept the countryside first clearing out huts and setting them afire. Anyone we suspected of being VC, we rounded up and pushed forward. No shooting, just simple snatch and burn. As we got closer to the village, we could hear gun fire and see smoke rising. The radio was going crazy with talk of Cong all over the place. Several of our prisoners took off and we dropped them before they made it ten feet. Before I knew it, I saw soldiers from a different outfit shooting civilians and raping women. I ordered my men to stand down. I even threatened to blow their heads off if they started that. They listened alright, because they knew I wasn’t bluffing.

As we advanced through the village, we witnessed huts set on fire with civilians still inside. We saw whole families shot to hell. In a ditch we passed countless men and women dead or dying. I sent our medic to care for the wounded, but they were pushed back at gun point and told to back off. A lieutenant and sergeant fired into the ditch with .45s.

At another ditch, a helicopter landed and its gunner stared down a squad who were going to kill the men, women, and children. We helped the helicopter crew load as many wounded aboard as possible, and then we held our position protecting those still alive. A helicopter gunship forced its way between fleeing refugees and their American pursuers to end the carnage.

We heard rumors of hundreds dead and even more wounded. I don’t know how many died. The military doesn’t even know. All I know is many were killed and the rest will never forget. To top it all off, they only found two AK47s. Two. With maybe three Viet Cong identified.

As George Carlin said, ‘Military intelligence is an oxymoron.’ Military intelligence got us into it, but it cried foul and played dead when their house of cards tumbled.

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Sins Of The Past

Sins of the Past – Griddlebone

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The werecat padded silently across the cobbles of the dark Vienna street. It was deserted now, but Griddlebone knew it would soon be filled with bootsteps and cries, gunshots and blood. They were slated to come at dawn, to cleanse this last Jewish neighborhood of its vermin, so that the proper folk of Vienna could finally live Judenfrei.

Inside the darkened houses, the residents huddled in fear. The news of the transport had only come hours before, and some still couldn’t believe it. They had been fooling themselves for months, believing this one insignificant street could survive in its own little bubble, that somehow God would protect them.

They readied themselves with what few valuables they had left. Maybe they could still bribe the Nazi soldiers. Maybe there was still a way out.

The werecat flexed his claws, as he waited in the shadows. Griddlebone wished he could rescue them all, but his orders were clear. He could only take one. They needed to be the right age too – a teenager would be good, strong enough to fight, strong enough to survive the turning.

As the first rays of light caught the cobblestones, Griddlebone felt the bootsteps echoing down the street. Soon. His tail swished back and forth in anticipation. Within minutes, the first soldier came into view. The werecat was all but invisible to the soldiers, his mottled grey coat blending perfectly with the cold grey street.

At the same time as the first soldiers appeared on foot, a silver-grey truck arrived on the street and parked in front of the buildings, waiting for its human cargo.

As the Gestapo soldiers marched past the werecat’s hiding place, he longed to dig his claws into their ankles, to hear them scream with pain. Not yet, Griddlebone, not yet.

Listen to Debbie reading her story Griddlebone from Sins of the Past on Outskirts Science Fiction Theatre.

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