A Great New Scary Read!

So happy to share a great new read with you today! This horror novel is by my friend and fellow City Owl Author Danielle Devor, and it is sure to keep you turning pages . . . and leaving your lights on at night!!  Enjoy!

 

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Uncovering the truth will take an exorcist.

Jimmy Holiday, defrocked priest turned exorcist, is trying to get his life in order. With his on-again off-again witchy girlfriend moving in, the spirit of the little girl from his last exorcism hanging around, and a secret organization of exorcists hounding him, Jimmy equals stressed.

When a stranger calls in the middle of the night asking for help with a possession, Jimmy is about to land in a mess of trouble. Especially since the man on the phone claims to have gotten his number from Jimmy’s old mentor. Too bad his mentor has been dead for years.

After a mysterious silver flask arrives at his doorstep, Jimmy is left with two options: either ignore the newest enigma the universe has tossed him, or listen to Lucy and travel to Arizona to solve the mystery before all hell breaks loose…again.

You can buy SORROW'S EDGE at these retailers:

 Amazon     |     Barnes & Noble

 

 

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Named one of the Examiner's 2014 Women in Horror: 93 Horror Authors you Need to Read Right Now, Danielle DeVor has been spinning the spider webs, or rather, the keyboard for more frights and oddities. She spent her early years fantasizing about vampires and watching “Salem's Lot” way too many times. When not writing and reading about weird things, you will find her hanging out at the nearest coffee shop, enjoying a mocha frappuccino. Visit her at http://danielledevor.wordpress.com

You can follow Danielle at these links:

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Instagram

Excerpt

I got the phone call at three. Just as Lucy said I would. I was really starting to hate the true “witching hour.” I needed sleep, dammit.
I let the phone ring a few times, hoping that whoever was on the other end would just hang up. I wasn’t that lucky. I dragged my tired-ass body up, grabbed my phone off the nightstand, and swiped the screen.
“Mr. Holiday?” the man asked when I grunted into the phone.
“You realize it’s 3:00 AM, right?” My head hit the pillow. I did not want to be doing this right now.
The man sighed. “It couldn’t be helped. We need you.”
I twitched. Who the hell was this guy anyway? Kind of presumptuous to call somebody at random this late at night when you’d never met the person on the other end. Apparently, manners weren’t his strong point.
I glanced around the room. The lamp in the corner was on. The light glowed just enough to keep my mind at ease. I’d gotten into the habit of sleeping with a light on ever since Sorrow’s Point. Yeah, it was irrational, but hey, I was trying to keep the beasties at bay. From the dim light, I could see Lucy sitting on the floor in front of the TV. I, just barely, made out the program through her. Her hair was as pale as usual and so blond it seemed almost white. She wore the same white nightgown she always did.
“How did you get my number?” I had to know. I mean, I doubted Will would suggest me to someone else. Things hadn’t exactly ended on a positive note.
“You came highly recommended.”
That was news to me. A very small group of people even knew I did something besides graphic design. “By who?”
“That’s not important right now. You’re needed. That’s what should matter.”
I sat up. Not important to him, maybe, but it sure as shit was important to me. I squeezed the phone so hard my knuckles began to ache. If I broke it, this asshole was going to owe me another phone. “Listen. I’m not about to traipse around and do whatever the hell it is you want me to when you won’t tell me who you are or who told you about me.”
“O’Malley said you’d be difficult.”
I froze. Father O’Malley had been the one who allowed me to see the church as a vocation when I was a kid. But there was one problem. He’d been dead since before I left the church. I didn’t care where he got the information. That was a low blow. I clenched my teeth.
“I’m going to hang up now. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call here again—”
“No, wait!”
The desperation in his voice was the only thing that kept me from hanging up the phone. “All right. I’m listening.”
“O’Malley told me about you in a dream. When I woke up, your phone number was scrawled on my hand.”
Yeah, I knew that kind of weird. I had firsthand experience with it. Having a dead person talk to him in a dream wasn’t that different from a disembodied soul speaking to me in a nightmare. Yeah, my life was really interesting. Though I’d never drawn on myself in my sleep. That was a new one. “Who is it who needs an exorcism?”
The guy hung up. I literally heard the phone hitting the cradle. Who used an old phone like that anymore? I almost threw my cell phone against the wall. I mean, what the hell? Wake me up in the middle of the night for what?
I scratched the sleep out of my eyes and glanced over at Lucy. “Don’t you ever sleep?”
She stared at me and grinned. Her blue eyes almost sparkled. “I don’t have to.”
I shook my head. Of course a kid would think it great to not sleep. I, on the other hand needed my rest—strange phone calls or not. And if someone else called, I’d probably be facing a murder charge.
“Do you think Tabby will like me?” Lucy asked. She stayed dressed in this little white frilly nightgown. I wasn’t sure if it was her favorite or if there was something else at work keeping her dressed that way. When I’d done her exorcism, she sure wasn’t in frills.
Now that was the question, wasn’t it? I’d been toying with the idea of not telling Tabby about my ghostly child, but it appeared that was no longer an option. And with my luck, Tabby would eventually see her, freak out, and the whole thing would be blown out of proportion.
“I’m sure she will…” I hoped that was true. “After she gets used to the idea.”
Lucy stared at me for a bit. I could tell she wasn’t buying it. Best I start remembering there was more to her than to a regular six-year-old.
“It will all work out,” I told her. “Eventually.” Part of that was me trying to convince myself. There was only so much oddness a normal person could take, and I figured I was probably getting close to the threshold.
“Uh-huh,” Lucy said, back to watching the TV. How she could just sit in front of the TV for hours on end, I didn’t know. It was almost like she became somehow hypnotized by it.
I laid my head back on the pillow. Hopefully, I could go back to sleep. Hopefully, I could stop worrying about that odd phone call. Hopefully…who was I kidding? I was seriously screwed. Again.

Guest Post by Author Em Shotwell!

I am super excited today to host a fantastic author who is also a really lovely person on the blog! Em Shotwell is a fellow City Ow author, and if you haven't read her book, BLACKBIRD SUMMER yet, you should check it out! Em's writing is full of heart, tension, magic, and romance. Plan to clear your calendar once you start in on her book – you won't be able to put it down till you get to the end!  Em joins us today to talk a little bit about the male characters that take center stage in her book. Enjoy!

Let’s Meet The

Men of Blackbird Summer

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Blackbird Summer is a lot of things. It is a small-town romance. It is a story of survival. Of sisterhood. Of forbidden love. It gets dark and gritty.

But it is also a whole lot of fun.

One of the main reason that Blackbird Summer manages to be a fun book, despite going to some rather dark places, is because of the men. They are protective, but they are also super chill. They are the kind of guys that you would want to have a beer with. To laugh with. The kind of guys you’d be comfortable bumming around with and being yourself.

I have talked a lot about my leading ladies—Tallulah and Delia Caibre. And I have even talked about the parents and their (very) strange family dynamic.

Today—the guys get their turn!

 

Meet Logan: The One Off-Limits…
Age:
23

Occupation: High school music teacher.

Talents: While Logan isn’t Gifted in the way that Tallulah’s family is, he is a very talented musician with a passion for teaching music. He plays guitar and piano.

Look: Logan is tall (something that Tallulah notices instantly…she is a tall girl herself). He has dark tan/ medium brown skin given to him by his Native-American father and Haitian Grandmother. His eyes are dark green (A gift from his Grandfather). His hair is shiny  and chin length. He is quick to smile and laugh, showing off perfect teeth.

Tallulah and Logan are instantly drawn to each other—but there is more to their connection than insta-love. (If you are curious, you can get your free copy of The Chans by going here. This will give you a glimpse into Logan’s head). Unfortunately—there are many reasons that Tallulah and Logan shouldn’t be together. Good thing they are willing to break a few rules.

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Meet Thomas: The One She’s Supposed To Be With…

Age: 23

Occupation: Works on an off-shore oil rig.

Talents: Thomas is from a Gifted family. He has an unsual talent…he can create and control small balls of fire. He claims it’s mostly useless, but makes for a pretty impressive party trick. His real passion is the outdoors. An avid fisherman, he’s happiest in nature.

Look: Thomas is a country boy. He has shaggy brownish/blondish hair that is usually stuffed under a baseball cap, and Gifted-Green eyes. He is tall, but where Logan is lanky, Thomas has a muscular build. He has dimples and a southern drawl.

Thomas is the one that Tallulah is supposed to like…but when he connects with the wrong Caibre sister, the rest is history. He and Delia seem to be made for each other…if only they can work it out.

 

Meet Jack: Cousin and Partner In Crime…

Age: 18

Occupation: At 18 years old, Jack works at the family produce stand and on the farm. He has plans though…plans that are sure to shake things up.

Talents: Jack is Delia’s boy book-end. More like twins than cousins, it’s no surprise that they possess the same Gift: the Gift of Charm. If Jack can make eye contact with an unGifted person- then they will want to make him happy.

Look: With the same straight, dark hair and big, bright green eyes—Jack and Delia look like they are cut from the same mold. (Jack’s Dad and Delia’s mom ARE twins…) He has clear, fair-ish skin and a runner’s build. He’s taller than Delia and Tallulah, but average height for a dude.

Jack is Tallulah and Delia’s “third”. He grew up letting the girls boss him around, and even as a young adult, is still the most laid back one in their group of three. Nothing really ruffles Jack’s feathers. He’s happiest when the people he loves are happy. But like Tallulah, he hopes for a future where he can be his true self, and he isn’t scared to shake things up to make it happen.

 

Who is your favorite guy from Blackbird Summer? I would love to hear who you prefer. Are any worthy of the title “Book-Boyfriend?”

Find me on Twitter or on Facebook and let me know. You can also visit me at my home on the web: www.EmShotwell.com

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To learn more about Logan, Thomas, and Jack, read Blackbird Summer!

 

When people fear the unknown, being Gifted is a curse.

In the cornerstone of the rural south, Brooklyn, Mississippi, no one dares make eye contact with the strange Caibre family. Until the rewards are worth the cost. The townsfolk come, cash in hand, always at night, to pay for services only a Gifted can provide.

No matter the Gifts prevalent in her family, at twenty-one, Tallulah is expected to follow the path laid out for her: marriage, babies, and helping her mama teach the family home school program. She’s resigned to live the quiet life and stay out of trouble…until she meets Logan.

An outsider and all around rebel, Logan doesn’t care about her family’s reputation. Yet after a tragic loss wreaks havoc on the crumbling relationship between the Caibres and the townsfolk, Tallulah must decide if love and freedom are worth risking everything.

Links:

All Romance eBooks: http://smarturl.it/Blackbird1ARe

Amazon Print: http://smarturl.it/Blackbird1AmzPrt

Amazon Digital: http://smarturl.it/Blackbird1Amz

Barnes & Noble: http://smarturl.it/Blackbird1BN

City Owl Press: http://smarturl.it/Blackbird1CO

GoodReads: http://smarturl.it/Blackbird1GR

iBooks (Apple): http://smarturl.it/Blackbird1iBooks

Kobo: http://smarturl.it/Blackbird1Kobo

 

Em Shotwell is the author of Blackbird Summer (City Owl Press, 2016). She lives in South Louisiana with a husband who spoils her and two mini-superheroes who call her mom. Em think the most interesting characters are the ones who live on the sidelines, and that small towns often hide the biggest secrets. She is inspired by tall tales and local legends.

When she’s not writing about misfits and oddballs, Em enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, and debating Doctor Who facts with her obsessed ten-year-old.

 

Visit her online at www.EmShotwell.com / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / Pinterest / Instagram

 

 

 

In Which I Vent My Rage

Marvel, you’re a Bastard.

I just wanted to get that out of the way, in case anyone was wondering where I came down on the whole “Captain America has always been a secret Nazi supporter” bullshit issue.

Let me be clear: I think it is good to challenge readers. Good writing requires that characters be complex, multifaceted, and be a mixture of the good and the bad. The best, most compelling characters will always be the ones who struggle with weakness, who are striving to overcome past mistakes, or who face morally complex choices and do the best they can while still wavering about which path to choose. All of these things are a part of good writing. Sometimes they make readers cry. Sometimes they make a story heartbreaking and damn-near traumatizing to read. But we see ourselves in those characters, and we explore our own moral dilemmas while they confront theirs, and as we read we learn about the complexities of the world and become better prepared to face the tough choices we constantly face in our own lives.

Marvel’s betrayal of all of its readers does none of those things.

The recent decision to completely undermine the compelling narrative that has touched literally millions of readers and inspired millions of fans has nothing to do with being honest about how tough life is. It has everything to do with a cheap attempt to get shock-value attention, and to reboot something because writers have simply run out of ideas. It is what happens when people are making money, and want to keep producing material, no matter how shitty the quality, in order to keep raking it in. It isn’t playing fair with the readers because it has absolutely nothing to do with the Cap we have always known and loved. It is bad writing because it isn’t true to what has come before it, and is a complete betrayal of the original vision of what this character was and who he was meant to be to the fans.

Let’s make a comparison. In the first book of George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, Game of Thrones, there is a central character who meets a sudden and tragic end. (I will avoid use of a name here, in a half-hearted attempt to avoid spoilers, but I think pretty much the whole world knows about this now anyway.) It is a devastating blow to readers who admired that character, and a terrible shock, as it is so unusual to kill off central characters in such a sudden, brutal way. In these ways, it bears some surface resemblance to Marvel’s recent reveal. But the similarity is only surface deep. Why? In GoT, the character is doomed by his own noble characteristics. He doesn’t understand what it means to rule. He thinks that he can be uncompromising, noble, and fair to everyone around him. By failing to understand that brutality and scheming are a part of surviving as a ruler, he is destined to die. It is tragic, and heartbreaking. It is also TRUE – we learn something about what it means to be a good man, and by reading it we explore how goodness can sometimes make us vulnerable. We weep for this character as he dies – but we also understand. It makes sense. It is sad, but it is also deeply satisfying.

Making Captain America a Nazi just doesn’t make any sense. This is not something that they have been building up to over the years, subtly laying a foundation upon which to build a deep and thoughtful plot twist. It is so shocking precisely because it has no foundation, and has nothing to do with the stories that we have been reading for years. If they thought we wouldn’t notice that they’ve just started making shit up, they were wrong. It is also the worst kind of betrayal. Cap has always been such a powerful symbol of what it is to be a good person – a true hero. Taking that away from us readers is just mean. The world needs heroes, dammit. We already have plenty of villains.

And also, I just want to say this: the current writers don’t actually own this story. The original writers – the people who first dreamed Cap up and brought him to life – were two Jewish guys trying to help the world believe that we could fight the Nazis. They wanted to give people hope and inspiration – and they did. The legacy they left behind has to be treated with respect. The darkness is real, people. We can say “Hydra” all we want – but that is just another word for Nazis. And it is not clever, or creative, or edgy, to take something created by people who were fighting that darkness, and whose families were victims of that darkness, and turn it into exactly what those writers were fighting against. It literally makes me sick to my stomach.

Marvel has gone too far. They should apologize for their betrayal of their readers and the creators of this world. They should take it back as hard and as fast as they can, in any way that they can.  If they don’t, they risk losing any legitimacy as inheritors of the legacy that Captain America’s creators left behind.

Worth Reading: The Dresden Files

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I missed out on the Harry Dresden series for years. I remember once, several years ago, picking a Dresden book up in the library. I glanced at the cover, read the inside flap. And I thought to myself, “I am so glad that someone is writing urban fantasy for men.” Then I set the book down and walked away. I’m not sure if it was the cowboy hat, or the trench coat, or the grizzled-private-eye-but-with-magic vibe, but I just assumed that these books were not meant for me and that I wouldn’t enjoy them. It wasn’t until years later that I picked up COLD DAYS and realized what I had been missing. Of course, the great thing about falling in love with a long-standing series is that, at least for awhile, you have the pleasure of catching up on your reading.

If you haven’t given these books a try yet, there a few very good reasons why you should. One of the things that I find most impressive about them is that author Jim Butcher has, in my opinion, successfully navigated the most challenging part of writing a successful series. So often, the longer a series goes on, the thinner the plot lines get. Some authors simply run out of ideas. Other realize that, if they allow their characters to overcome their adversaries or solidify their relationships, there will be nothing left to write about. So they keep their characters in a constant state of limbo that becomes increasingly frustrating for the reader. But the Dresden books really do evolve. The main character makes decisions that fundamentally change his situation and his relationships. The series grows darker as he becomes less sure of his own morality. The situations that he finds himself in grow more complex. This makes for tremendously rewarding reading, especially in the more recent books.

The other thing that I really find amazing is Jim Butcher’s ability to build up to a fantastic, satisfying resolution for each of his stories. So often authors come up with an interesting scenario or fascinating premise, but then have trouble bringing the pieces of the puzzle they’ve constructed together in a meaningful way. Great endings are much harder to write than mysterious beginnings. But if anything Jim Butcher has the opposite problem. Sometimes I find the very beginning of the Dresden books a little bit dense to get through. But this is because Butcher is laying out all the pieces of his puzzle very carefully. In the end, when everything comes together, he presents the reader with an ending that is both action packed and also, somehow, manages to take you by surprise, as elements come together in a way you would never have been able to predict.

The most recent Harry Dresden book is SKIN GAME. If you haven’t given it a chance yet, it is well worth the read.

It’s Been A While…

If you’re stopping by this blog after a lengthy absence, you’re in good company. It has been a while since I’ve been by here, too. It turns out that writing both a new manuscript and frequent blog updates is pretty hard to do and, when forced to make a choice between the two, I have definitely opted for my novel. Over the last several months my laptop and I have been spending a lot of quality time together, and at this point I am happy to say that I have a manuscript that I am pretty proud of. It still needs to be polished, and I am working on getting trustworthy feedback and making revisions, but I am also starting to emerge from my “writing cave.” As I start to ramp up towards querying, I have been working on setting up a website for myself and giving the blog a better look.

I’ve been reading some tremendously exciting new books recently, and have found a few new authors that I’m really excited about. In the next few weeks I hope to put up posts about them, as I know I am always grateful for recommendations of new fantasy books to read. In the meantime, please poke around the website a bit! It is definitely still a work in progress, but it is great to have you here, and I’m excited about getting it fully up and running before too long. Take care!

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